fall is here!

Something changed in the wind overnight. We woke up this morning and could feel the crispness in the air. Our original goal was to go hike Humpback Rock at sunrise, but who were we kidding? We hit that snooze button faster than you can say, “where’s my coffee?” Around 8 o’clock we stirred and got our butts out of bed.

For the those unfamiliar with the Central Virginia region, we’ve got a pretty incredible backdrop here. The Blue Ridge Mountains sit quietly until they take your breath away when you’re finally near. This little hike is only one mile, but it’s a straight shot uphill. Your heart rate goes up right from the beginning. This time we focused on appreciating the nature around us and breathing in the fresh air. Here are some snapshots from our morning.

Here’s one angle of our view from the top. Marvelous :)

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

moments in the Blue Ridge

It’s been gorgeous in Central Virginia and today was just one of those days where you couldn’t not be in the sunlight . Chris and I decided to visit a spot in the Blue Ridge that we hadn’t been to in about two years and I’m glad we did. We sometimes forget the calming effect that being outdoors and breathing fresh air can have. Even the sensation of walking in cold water or climbing on rocks is relieving. Our society has managed to detach us from nature and it is our responsibility to reconnect. We can’t forget how innately human it is to walk outside, to get dirty, to play around.

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.

Days 174 – 178, 6.23.2011-6.27.2011

Phew! It’s been a busy week! I completed my Whole30 (reflections to come!), we painted our revamped our apartment with Chris’ parents, met up with my parents in Northern VA, had a great weekend, and now back to normal life! Let’s review, shall we?

6.23.2011 – With Chris’ parents in town and arriving late at night, we gave them our bedroom for the duration of their visit. The aerobed is actually quite comfy! Not the most creative picture but sometimes you lack inspiration.

6.24.2011 – While the family was slaving away painting and renovating our apartment, I spent the day at work and then helped make a home-cooked dinner – BBQ ribs, grilled kale (which caught on fire), and a brussels sprout medley. I hadn’t had ribs in so long, mmmmm ribs. I felt like a true cavewoman.

6.25.2011 – I would be meeting up with my parents and godparents who were visiting from Guatemala in Northern VA. My parents and I took them to see the Great Falls Park rapids, where the Potomac River flows through and what used to be a canal for transportation. In the evening, we went to go to see the Spirit of Atlanta, the drum and bugle corp that Chris teaches, perform in Arlington, VA with Chris’ parents. After the show, Chris and I went to get some fantastic homemade soft-serve ice cream and a chocolate espresso tart. I hadn’t had much dairy since coming off the Whole30 and I found out that yes, I’m lactose-intolerant, but man, that ice cream was WORTH IT. Also, I wouldn’t see Chris for three weeks so a major cheat was fine by me!

6.26.2011 – My godparents were heading out of Chinatown in DC for New York so we spent the latter part of the morning being tourists and walking around DC. We didn’t see as much as we wanted because parking was such an ordeal but we got some great weather and even better company. My dad is cheesy (and mildly embarrassing) for wearing a “USA” shirt while in DC.

 

6.27.2011 – I’ve realized that I want to maintain most of the habits I formed during the Whole30 but not so strict so I don’t go insane. One thing I’ve introduced into my diet is ghee – ultra-clarified butter. I used it for the first time for some beef liver from Wolf Creek Farm and oh-my-goodness, the smell was intoxicating. Think of the best butter you’ve ever had and then amplify it. Yeah, it’s awesome. I sautéed a small yellow squash, mushroom and tomato hash with some broiled kale (set the smoke alarm off! oops!) and that yummy liver. Mmmmm.