feed a cold

It’s been a while since I have posted and for that, I apologize. Life has been a little crazy recently – I ended my position at a local restaurant and am now working for a local photographer in hopes of absorbing and learning everything & anything. Needless to say, I’ve been a little stressed.

Stressed to the point where my sleeping habits have been affected and my immune system couldn’t take it anymore. I usually get a solid 8 hours of sleep and have reduced that to less than 6 hours a night, and it finally snowballed on me. [Read about the importance of sleep here.] On Friday night, after working my last shift ever (on Graduation weekend no less) I left the restaurant with a huge headache. Saturday morning came and I felt like I had been hit with a truck. Everything hurt. Still does. I managed to make it to the Charlottesville City Farmer’s Market but crashed shortly thereafter and am still recovering.

In hopes of of lifting my spirits, I’ve been making delicious meals for myself. Nothing makes me feel better than a good yummy meal.

Yesterday, sweet & citric were my cravings so I tossed this beauty up. Spring greens, topped with cherry tomatoes, olives, slivered almonds, sliced oranges with a balsamic vinegar & EVOO dressing, with a side of curried grass-fed beef heart. Totally hit the spot! Sweet, salty, and nutritious!

In order to avoid infecting the public and steering clear of the Graduation crowds, I made brunch at home! A basil and green onion omelet with pasture-raised bacon on the side (duh, you can’t have brunch without bacon). And a side of frozen strawberries, coconut milk, and almonds as my dessert! The frozen berries tamed the fiery sensation from my sore throat.

Finally, dinner tonight — bunless grass-fed burger with roasted kale and an avocado & kimchi side. This was delectable. The burgers were seasoned with green onions, paprika, and curry and cooked in bacon grease (what ISN’T amazing cooked in bacon grease?). The kimchi was a gift from my favorite vendor at the market – Wolf Creek Farm!

I’m still not feeling 100% but I can rest easy knowing that at least I’m feeding myself properly!

Where I got my ingredients

local, seasonal, delicious

This past Saturday was the last Charlottesville City Farmers’ Market that I will attend for the year. From April until December, I did not miss a Saturday (aside from the time I was in Guatemala). I experienced an entire season of local, organic produce and meats. This is what I’ve learned in the last 8 months.

  • Fresh seasonal produce tastes amazing – no, this is not an exaggeration. Heirloom tomatoes? DIVINE. Blueberries in July? Sweet, tart, and crisp. Even the kale and greens are tastier!
  • The vendors at the market are some of the most genuine and inspiring people I’ve met. Their ability to get up at ungodly hours, suffer temperamental weather and still have a smile on their face is a testament of their passion. Making friends with and being about to shake the hands of the people who raised/grew our food is an incredible feeling.
  • No, it’s not cheap. But it is worth it. I don’t make a lot of money so I made the decision to stop mindlessly buying things and start investing in my health and well-being.
  • Planning is key. If I had my way, I’d buy everything from everyone at the market. And then it would all go bad in my fridge because I can only eat so much and I’d also be broke. To prevent said catastrophe, I’d set a list of what I’d like to get every Saturday and adjust it according to what was available. The list usually included eggs (duh), meats for protein (bacon was always on this list), some kind of greens, seasonal fruit (berries in the summer, pears and apples in the fall), and at least two kinds of vegetables.
  • Experimenting is fun! Whenever possible, I’d make myself buy something I’ve never cooked before. That’s how I discovered Patty Pan squashes, Russian kale, turnips, purple cauliflower, okra and so on.
  • Early bird gets the worm. Or the eggs. Whatever. Getting to the market early is the best way to ensure that you’ll find what you want. As the colder weather was approaching, farm eggs became more and more scarce and to ensure that I’d get my two dozen eggs, I’d be there right when the market started (7AM during the summer, 8AM during the fall). I regret nothing.

Winter officially starts tomorrow and my produce habits will have to adjust. Between a possible winter CSA and shopping at locally-owned grocery stores, we’ll get our food locally when possible. I can’t wait until next year!

A big THANKS to the folks at: Wolf Creek Farm, Whisper Hill Farm, Double H Farm, Sunset View Farm, Planet Earth Diversified, Babes in the Wood, and Shenandoah Joe’s (because I can only function at 7AM with the help of coffee). 

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 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).

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!

Day 202 – 7.21.2011

Just to prove to you guys that I’m not sitting around eating my face off, here’s a picture of my puddle of sweat from this morning’s WOD! Deadlifts followed by tabatas of wall-balls, ball slams, and pushups. All in this wonderful (read: horrendous) Virginia heat. Fun, no? Gotta love it.

I’ve been reading a lot about food recently (currently reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes) and wanted to make a really great meal (it was more like a feast). It’s funny, I work in a restaurant and yet I spend my days off cooking. Started off with some beet chips that give off this wonderful saturated color and a sweet aroma. Meanwhile I had an entire chicken (bought from Sweet Peeps Farm who are fellow CrossFitters and were on the show Expedition Impossible) roasting in the oven. The ingredients for the chicken were simple yet potent – lime zest, garlic, parsley, salt & pepper, Disha’s BBQ Spice Rub, and olive oil. It’s slightly modified from this recipe off the CrossFit Journal (you might need to be a subscriber to see the page, sorry). It was super easy and made my kitchen smell delicious. Served on the side: veggie and scallion medley (not pictured).

After all was said and done, the chicken was DIVINE. (Bold font is necessary) Combining local pasture-raised chickenand great simple ingredients is a win-win situation – you really can’t go wrong. And now, I have enough leftovers for at least two days! Suh-weet!

 

Days 199, 200 (!!), 201

Whoo! I’ve made it over the 200th day mark! I don’t know what’s crazier, the fact that I’m in the 200’s or the fact that over 200 days of the year have gone by.

Anyhoo, I’m clumping days together because it’s less spam-y (not this spam-y) and because I’m lazy.

Monday started hella early (early enough for me to use the word “hella”) at 4am. Chris had a flight out of Richmond at 6 so off we went! When I got back to Charlottesville, the morning sun made the dew on our front lawn glisten. It was quite a beautiful morning!

I’ve been venturing the Farmer’s Market frequently and I’ve made it a goal to get something different every time I go, even if it’s something small. This past weekend I bought a half-purple pepper and decided to use it in a small frittata I made for the day. Apparently, purple peppers are full of antioxidants (like blueberries) so yay! It didn’t taste much different than a red or yellow pepper but it smelled way more potent.

Most of you don’t know this but I have a slight obsession with saving mementos. You name it, I probably have a stack of it somewhere – ticket stubs, notes, pictures, instruction manuals, etc. While bored at work, I rifled through my journal and found this drawing. I can’t place when/where it was from but it was a cute little keepsake from Chris (even if it does look like a five year old drew it).

Days 197, 198

This past weekend was exactly what I needed it to be. I started off by working a double on Friday (as a result, no photo) which established a surprisingly enjoyable rhythm of craziness. Chris and his parents were visiting for the weekend so I managed to get the two days off.

Saturdays mean Farmer’s Market in the summer and since I wasn’t working that day, I took my time venturing through the booths, tasting the fresh fruit, chatting with the vendors. (Btw, 7am is the BEST time to go to the market – it’s cooler, there’s less people, and no one’s sold out of anything!)

It was also Restaurant Week in Charlottesville and we got a reservation at my favorite place in town, Brookville! Their menu did not disappoint (although the portion sizes could have been a bit more filling, but that’s an issue with all of Restaurant Week). Who can say no to good wine and good food? (Answer: not me)

I spent Sunday finishing The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I would recommend to anyone interested in taking care of their health – which I hope is everybody). After completing the book, my first reaction was to go into the kitchen and start cooking. I was also hungry (when am I not hungry?). On the menu for Sunday night: beet chips, cauliflower rice (recipe here), Indian-inspired tomato and mushroom sautée, and grilled flank (courtesy of Mama Garay). Meal = success! It was a great meal to share with Chris before he left for another two weeks!