July 9th Market:

During the week, I love to take afternoon walks and check on the status of the farm. During my walks, I always seem to find something amazing and I happily snap a picture and post it on Facebook.  I am so amazed at how much work Matt gets done all by himself!  During the season, he is out working at 6:30 in the morning and finally settles back in to the house around 6 for dinner, with Sage and I and then back out to work until 9:00.  He gets it all done and I am so proud of what he does. The fact that our child understands where his food comes from and the importance of sustainable farming is priceless to me.  Another bonus, he is the only kid I know that eats his vegetables!  If you would like to track the progress of our farm, like our Facebook Black Creek Farm page.  I just put it together Monday and am real excited about how it is forming up.

As many of you have figured out, I LOVE to cook!  I especially love to cook Matt’s food!  I swear, I wasn’t a good cook until I married a farmer!  His delicious, fresh food makes it so darn easy!  I have always read about people who were substituting zucchini noodles for pasta noodles.  I was always intrigued to try it out.  I did Monday night, and I have to say it was one of my top favorite recipes.  One of my favorite recipe bloggers is Skinny Taste, and I remembered she had a recipe so I popped over to her blog and found this delicious recipe for zucchini lasagne!   Of course, I can never follow a recipe exactly, so I also added some of Matt’s delicious arugula (I got the idea from my friend, Dana who told me she threw in spinach).  I also had some fresh pesto that I just made Saturday after market and I tossed about a tablespoon of that in with the ricotta cheese mixture.  It was pure perfection!

Many of our customers at market are addicted to our Shishito Peppers!  They are finally coming in full force and will be coming to market this Saturday!

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This season they are better than ever!  They are big and plump, crisp and delicious.  If you aren’t familiar with these treats, you will love them.  It is so quick and easy to prepare them.  I just take a pan and toss in about a tablespoon of olive oil, turn up the heat and blister then in the pan (throw them right on in, no need to cut them up).  I then toss some sea salt on them and give them a lemon squeeze and eat them up.  I use the stem as my fork!  You can do the same thing on a grill.  It doesn’t get any easier (or tastier) than that! You can also roast them.  Some folks will toss sesame seeds with them, that is awesome as well.

Another new thing coming to market is old fashioned GREEN BEANS!  On my afternoon walk, I picked one right off the plant.  They are so sweet raw.  I can’t wait to serve them up for dinner!

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There is no sense in serving boring steamed green beans when they are this fresh!  I love to serve them with various vinaigrettes.  If you are a bacon lover, you will love Green Beans with Bacon Vinaggrette!  It is so easy and the bacon gives it a nice smoked flavor!  Matt grows a ton of garlic, so I put it in everything.  I absolutely love this Garlicky Green Beans with Pine Nuts recipe.  Casselmonte Farm is one of our favorite farms and we love to trade with them.  They grow the best mushrooms!  They are right across from us at market.  Since we have green beans, Green Beans with Mushrooms and Crispy Onion Rings will be on our menu!  These recipes call for frozen green beans….don’t listen to them, fresh is best!

Summer is on and so is the harvest!  So, what’s coming to market this week?

  • Salad and Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale Galore
  • Squash
  • Onions
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Purple and Orange Carrots (the purples sell out fast)
  • Beets (chioggia and yummy golden)
  • Green Beans
  • Shishito Peppers
  • Honey
  • Micro Greens (spicy, kale, arugula, and basil)
  • Basil
  • Squash
  • Eggs

See you at market this Saturday!  We will be there from 8:00-12:00.  Come early to get the best treats!

 

July 2nd Market: 4th of July!

Before I begin this week’s blog, I need to give a shout out to Goats R Us.  They are right across from us at the South of the James Farmer’s Market.  She has goat cheese spreads that are so tasty!  My very favorite thing she has is her Feta Cheese!  Last week I featured an Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad from “The Barefoot Contessa” on the Food Network.  The feta cheese I got from Goats R Us was the best feta I have EVER had!  So if you want to make this recipe and get our Arugula, I suggest you step across the way and get some Goats R Us feta.

With that being said, why should you buy from the local farmer’s market when you can go to Wegmans, Whole Foods, or Fresh Market?  It is simple,  our food is grown within 20 miles of market.  It is all harvested the Friday before market which ensures the freshest and most nutritious food.  You simply can’t get food picked at the peak of freshness from a store.  You can also meet the farmer, Matt Powell.  He is happy to talk to you about his growing practices and he is a great one to give you gardening tips!  I have to say, eating with the seasons is truly the best way to eat.  Buying from local farmers also helps them support their families and their dreams.

This week, Matt is bringing the very best radishes!  They are called Easter Egg Radishes  and are beautiful, fresh, and awesome!  They come in red, purple and white.

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I have several favorite ways to use these.  The simplest is to slice them thin and put them in Matt’s Field Greens.  I toss the salad with a simple, fresh, dressing.  1/4 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon of honey, and a dash of salt and pepper.  I always make it in a mason jar and give it a shake.  Nothing beats fresh dressings, and they are so easy to make!  My friend Gina shared a recipe with me, Pesto, Radish, and Sea Salt Crostini.  We have plenty of basil coming to market and making the pesto for this is so easy (15 minutes and done)!  I had a customer tell me that one of her favorite things to do with them is to roast the radishes!  Just toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them at 350 for 30 minutes.

Squash is in full season and are so delicious!  Matt’s squash is outstanding.  I have eaten squash in every way for several weeks now.  I am not tired of them yet.

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Matt is growing these awesome zephyr squash along with yellow and green zucchinis. I love these roasted.  Just like everything I roast, you only need to toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and a red onion.  Roast for 30 minutes on 350 and it is outstanding.  I have  also used them to make a pizza !  It is a fun summer squash pizza with goat cheese and walnuts.  Matt loves to grill them, slice them long and brush them with olive oil and give them a little salt and pepper.  The charring makes them wonderful!  I have used them for various kabobs on the grill, just add whatever meat you desire!

Summer is on and so is the harvest!  So, what’s coming to market this week?

  • Salad and Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale Galore
  • Squash
  • Onions
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cabbage
  • Purple and Orange Carrots (the purples sell out fast)
  • Tatsoi
  • Bok Choi
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Honey
  • Eggs

See you at market this Saturday!  We will be there from 8:00-12:00.  Come early to get the best treats!

June 25th Market:

Many folks ask how Matt got started farming.  Matt began farming as a hobby when he was 19 years old.  He would watch “Square Foot Gardening” on PBS with Mel Bartholomew on PBS in the 1980’s.  He read all of his books and practiced and practiced his techniques.   Every mistake he made was an opportunity to learn and grow!  In 2008, our son was born, his birth changed our lives in so many positive ways.  Matt began growing even more food because he knew that it was no longer just for us and wanted to make sure his child had the best food available.  He produced so much food that year, as a family, we decided it was time  for him to quit his 9 to 5 job and turn his passion and talent in to his career.  In 2009, you could find us as at the South of the James Farmer’s Market.  We were so proud to be able to provide the folks of Richmond the same quality food Matt produced for his family.  You can still find us there every Saturday from 8:00-12:00!

imageFrom this picture, you can tell Matt has come a long way from his small scale garden.  The techniques he honed in on as he first began growing has blossomed into the most beautiful field I have ever walked.  I walk this field daily, rain or shine, and marvel at my husband’s work.  My very favorite day of the week is Sunday mornings, when Matt and I shop the field for the upcoming week.

I don’t grow the food, but I do help harvest it and help Matt at market.  At market, I meet the very best home chefs.  I listen to them as they describe how they will serve our food.  It makes me so happy and through the years, I have collected their ideas.  This year, I decided to share them here.

My very favorite thing Matt grows is arugula. One of our customers told me that in the summer, they love arugula and watermelon salad!  Here is a very simple recipe that Britt Wilcox uploaded to Vimeo.  So simple and truly tasty!

watermelon arugula salad from Britt Wilcox on Vimeo.

Ina Garten on the Food Network has another awesome Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta salad.  You can never go wrong with the combination of feta and watermelon!  It is super good and so refreshing in the summer!  Both of these recipes are so EASY and extremely delicious.

Another delight we have coming is purple carrots.

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You can’t go wrong with these!  You can eat them raw, put them in salads, dip them, and roast them.  My favorite recipe comes from one of my favorite sites, Skinny Taste.  It is called Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Ginger.  It is so fresh and the ginger is just right!

Summer is on and so is the harvest!  So, what’s coming to market this week?

  • Salad and Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale Galore
  • Squash
  • Fennel
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cabbage
  • Purple Carrots
  • Tatsoi
  • Bok Choi
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Honey
  • Eggs

See you at market!  We will be there from 8:00-12:00.  Come early to get the best treats!

 

June 18th Market: Father’s Day!

We are now rolling in to summer full force!  We are still waiting on tomatoes, but they will be here very soon!  Anything highlighted on this page is a link to a delicious recipe I love, so click away and get some yummy ideas!  You can see us each Saturday at the South of the James Farmer’s Market in Forest Hill Park from 8:00-12:00.  We harvest on Fridays to ensure you have the freshest food for your family.

One of the things we bring this time of year that peaks the most interest is kohlrabi! No, they are not space aliens!

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This year we are growing two varieties, the honking 5 pounders and the cute little small kohlrabi.  Yes, it is weird looking but it tastes wonderful!  You can eat the kohlrabi raw by simply peeling the outer skin and chopping it in to match sticks.   My 7 year old son has been eating these since he has had teeth and loves them.  They are crisp like a water chestnut with a broccoli taste.  Many of our customers use these to dip in to hummus and other dips as appetizers at their cookouts.  I love them in our salads to give an extra crunch.  Another way, we love to eat them is to pickle them.  It is so easy and a great way to save the harvest!  I also like to make kohlrabi apple slaw.  It tastes like broccoli slaw but tastier, the apple addition makes a nice crisp sweetness and the honey mixed with dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil gives it a nice kick!  Another great way is to roast them.  I cut them in to slices and toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic and throw them in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.  They are very tasty this way as well.  I have never tried grilling them, I may give that a try for father’s day!  I will prepare them the same way I do for roasting but put them on the grill.

We will also be bringing our very popular tatsoi to market.  When the heat turns on, the spinach turns off.  Matt found tatsoi as an awesome spinach replacement!  It tastes just like spinach with very yummy stems!

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My favorite way to eat them is to chop them up and serve them raw in a salad tossed with some goat cheese, strawberries, and avocado topped with a nice grilled chicken breast!  I love to serve this with a homemade honey poppyseed dressing.  Just mix 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup of honey, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons poppy seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until a tangy-sweet dressing forms.  It is truly easy and you will be amazed that fresh always tastes better!  I also love to sauté them in olive oil on the stove with some garlic and salt and pepper.  They taste wonderful with fish, especially salmon.  If you love to stir fry, tatsoi rocks this recipe!

 

So, what’s coming to market this week?

  • Salad and Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Squash
  • Fennel
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi
  • Carrots
  • Tatsoi
  • Bok Choi
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Honey
  • Eggs

See you at market!  We will be there from 8:00-12:00.  Come early to get the best treats!

June 11th Market

What is on the menu for this market?  Yummy squash!  It is one of my favorite summer treats.  I love the fresh taste of them grilled.  I just brush some olive oil on them and a bit of salt and pepper, put them on the grill for a bit of awesome carmelization and you have the yummiest taste of summer. I also love to roast them.  It’s so easy, just quarter them and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, and onions.  Cook for about 30 minutes at 425 and you have a nice side.  I have a friend who comes to market each Saturday.  She shared this Grilled Summer Squash with Blue Cheese and Pecans recipe with me from Food and Wine.  Matt and I tried it and it really fancied up the squash.  Matt picks his squash super young.  They are very tender and delicious.  They are so tender, I have even tossed them in a salad raw.  One thing I have learned, when you have quality ingredients you don’t have to be fancy and they still taste great!  Look at these beauties coming to market!

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My next favorite thing is fennel.  Fennel has a sweet licorice flavor and is very tasty as a side or in other dishes.  Ancient Chinese medicine found found fennel helps with everything from congestion to conjunctivitis.  The essential oil of fennel provides upset stomach relief.  That’s all good to know, but really, I just want to eat clean, healthy food!  I have chopped it in to matchsticks and added it to Matt’s savory salad blend he sells at market.  You can steam, roast or saute the bulb and add it to soup or casseroles.  It is also great served with fish.

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About 10 years ago I went to Edo Squid and had their braised fennel and became obsessed with this awesome treat.  Whenever I taste something wonderful, I try to reproduce it at home.  I found this braised fennel recipe and it is very close to the perfection I ate that night at Edo Squid.  The reason Edo Squid’s food tastes so awesome is because they get their ingredients from local farmers.  They are a part of the Mamma Zu family and they come out to South of the James Farmer’s market each Saturday to hand select their fresh food for the week.  As a matter of fact, they were doing this before the “farm to table” thing was a thing.  We truly appreciate restaurants that buy from local farmers.

So, what’s coming to market this week?

  • Salad and Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Squash
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Turnips
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Carrots
  • Tat Soi
  • Honey
  • Eggs

See you at market!  We will be there from 8:00-12:00.  Come early to get the best treats!

June 4th Market

We are so blessed to have such great customers!  The picture up here was taken by one of our dearest customers and shared with me.  She was delighted by the beautiful vegetables she bought at market last week.  Her picture looks so scrumptious, I just had to brag on the fact that my husband grew that!!!

This is an exciting week for market because bok choy is in!  We are bringing baby bok choy this week because they are true beauties!
img_3689Cute and tiny and pure perfection!  When I have super fresh bok choy, my favorite way to make it is in a salad!  About six years ago, one of our customers shared this recipe with me and just thinking about it makes my mouth water!  It is so easy!  First throw a chicken breast on the grill.  I break up a bag of ramen noodles (yep the ones we lived off of in college) and toast them.  I then chop up the bok choy (be sure to use the stems), chop up some peanuts, drain a can of mandarin oranges and throw them in along with the toasted ramen noodles and toss.  I slice up the chicken breast and serve on right on top of the salad.  I make an awesome fresh ginger dressing to keep the Asian flair.  I always use our garlic and honey in it.  I am also sure to use Castlemonte Farm’s fresh ginger when it is in season.  It is the very best ginger and it is used in the Hardywood Gingerbread Stout! You can visit them at market, they are right across from us at the South of the James!  You are sure to be delighted by this recipe.  You can also sauté the bok choy in olive oil and garlic and serve them as a side, they are great that way as well.

This year, Matt’ swiss chard has really put on a beautiful show!  Did you know they are in the beet family and offer awesome health benefits?
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Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around and ranks second only to spinach. My favorite way to serve this is in a stir fry!  This shrimp and swiss chard sauté is super quick and easy and is a healthy week night supper!

So, what’s coming to market this week?

  • Salad and Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Fresh Garlic and Garlic Scopes
  • Squash
  • Leeks
  • Bok Choy
  • Honey
  • Eggs
  • Baby Romaine and Butter Crunch Lettuces

We will see you from 8:00-12:00 this Saturday at the South of the James Farmer’s Market!  Remember, market is always best in the rain!

Memorial Day Market, May 28th, 2016

What does Matt grow best?  Salads!!!  They are so good that James Beard award winning Chef Dylan Fultineer, executive chef for Rappahannock Oyster Company buys our salads to serve at his restaurant every week.  Chef Fultineer is truly a “farm to table” chef.  The food he serves is outstanding and his restaurant has been named as one of the best in Esquire Magazine.  I am very proud to see Black Creek Farm listed on their menu.  We bring our fresh greens straight to Rappahannock’s kitchen each Saturday right after market!  You can pick up a bag of our salads straight from The South of the James Farmer’s Market each Saturday.  We have these yummy salads every week from now through November!

Watch our salads grow:

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Whenever I eat Matt’s salads, I am sure to honor it with fresh homemade salad dressing.  My favorite recipe is simple.  I pull out a mason jar and mix a 1/2 a cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Black Creek Honey, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste and shake.  It is truly simple and delicious.  I toss the salad with fresh strawberries, goat cheese, and walnuts.  If I want to make it a meal, I toss a fresh grilled chicken breast on top.  Truly one of my favorite summer dinners!

This week, we have a wonderful late spring treat coming to market, GARLIC SCAPES!  Garlic scapes taste mild and sweet with a hint of a soft garlicky flavor.  There is just a small window that these are available and we will only have them for a few weeks.

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What do you do with them, you ask?  I always get great ideas from our customers.  We have one customer that buys a bunch and makes garlic scape pesto. She freezes the pesto and enjoys the taste throughout the summer and fall.  Based on her suggestion, I made a garlic pesto pasta and it was delicious!  Another customer made pickled garlic scapes.  Another great way to preserve the flavor of late spring!  I love to grill them and serve them in stir fries.  Matt and I are busy folks, I am a principal of an elementary school, he farms alone (I help him on weekends), and together we raise a beautiful son.  The results are a lot of hours working, so simple is what we need!

So, after all of this…..what is coming to market???  We will be bringing:  garlic scapes and fresh garlic, baby squash varieties, our signature salad, baby leaf arugula, young and tender romaine and butter crunch lettuces, turnips, swiss chard, radishes, honey, eggs, leeks, and spring onions.  We are all blessed with this mild weather that brings forth abundance of fresh, tender greens.

See you at market!

Market May 21, 2016

I have to be honest, my favorite market days are rainy market days. The slower pace gives us more time to chat with our customers and really hear about what they want and how they cook their food. The foodie in me loves to hear about their favorite recipes! The best part is you know it’s gonna rain, so pull out your best rain gear and show it off!  

So what are we bringing to market? We have beautiful squash, green garlic, leeks, field greens, arugula, Asian turnips, baby romaine lettuces, baby butter crunch lettuces, eggs, and honey. A full booth of quality food for the most dedicated foodies in town!

Let’s talk about green garlic. It is available for such a short window that is coming to a close. Don’t miss out on this scrumptious treat. These tastey treats are milder than regular garlic and are a mix between a garlic and a scallion. They are great in stir fries. 


Here is my favorite way to use them: Toast some pine nuts and sautée the green garlic in olive oil. Toss in a can of drained and rinsed cannelloni beans with the toasted pine nuts. Throw in a whole bag of our arugula and cook it until it wilts. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the yumminess and serve. Easy peasy fanciness!

I am so excited about our early squash. Matt has really babied them through the late freezes. I love to sautée them in olive oil and eat them up. They taste like summer!

Matt and I look forward to seeing you at market! Market is best in the rain. Parking is easy and there are no crowds. There is also a small donut line! Total perks. 
We have lots of surprises next week. Garlic scapes will be in among another things. See you soon!

May 14th, 2016 Market

We finally made it to our first market!  For the first time, we were able to bring our seven year old son, Sage. He was such a big help and I am so proud that we are raising a child with a strong work ethic. He proudly boxed and displayed the romaine lettuces for us. The best part was him helping us prepare for market Friday night. It was awesome watching him play.

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We really missed our customers and they missed us!  It is so good to feel loved! We brought out a great spread. We had honey, spring garlic, the most beautiful leeks, arugula, field greens, chard, spring onions, cute baby butter crunch lettuce, and romaine lettuce.

My favorite thing this week was the romaine lettuces. I love to copy cat PF Changs famous lettuce wraps with them!  Total fresh yum!

Spring garlic is an awesome treat this time of year. For some great ideas click here.  My favorite way to eat this is truly the simplest. Sautée in olive oil and toss some fresh shrimp in it and DONE. Easy and healthy dinner!

Matt grew the best leeks ever!  Many folks told me they were going to grill them!  Simply split them in half, brush some olive oil on them and put them on the grill.  Yumm!

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Get ready for squash and garlic scrapes!  We expect to have them next week. As always, thank you for patiently waiting for our return. I am happiest at market because of each of you!  Blessings until next week.

Let Us Eat Lettuce

Here’s a sign that summer salads are right around the corner…
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Look at the beautiful lettuce that is flourishing at Black Creek Farm!  If you’ve never had a salad with fresh romaine, arugula, and baby leaf salad, then your taste buds are missing out.   We’ll be posting soon when our lettuce will be available at market.