Fredericksburg Farmers Market

The last couple of Saturdays in a row, I have been lucky enough to get out and make it to my local farmer’s market.  There are two farmer’s markets in Fredericksburg- one is downtown and one is on Route 3 in the commuter lot not too far from where I live.  I have never been the market downtown, and I don’t feel the need to because the Spotsylvania market is great!

Fredericksburg Farmers Market

Spotsylvania Farmers Market

This photo was taken close to one end of the market, and you can see it’s pretty big.  Because they hold it in the commuter lot, there’s lots of space to work with and tons of parking, which is great because there are crowds of people there every week.

The hours are Saturdays from 8 AM till 1 PM, but you do need to go a little earlier in the day to get the best selection.  Many of the bakery products are almost completely gone before noon. There is a gourmet ice cream truck (with reasonable prices) and an iced tea stand (loose leaf teas).  A couple of herb and plant sellers have pre-made bouquets and potted plants. There are a couple different meat sellers, including Papa Weaver’s Pork Products.  Papa Weaver’s products are awesome, and they always have samples to taste.  I love their hot dogs, even though they are expensive.  But their other products are well priced, and often fall in the same range that you would find in a grocery store.   And there are always lots of fruit and vegetable sellers.  There really is such a variety, including people selling honey, jams, barbeque sauce, goat cheeses and cow cheeses, and more.  The best part is, they also accept SNAP benefits so anyone can shop there.

Peppers

Peppers

There are so many good things about this market, and the best news is that it runs from late April through most of December.  What a long season!  Granted, towards the end of the year, the number of vendors dwindles down quite a bit, but you still typically have meats, cheeses, and the late blooming vegetables.  The rise of the local farmer has led to an increase in variety of plants, and I think more interest in eating plants year round.  I hope to see more people with new varieties the later it gets.  In reading the Spotsylvania Farmers Market Blog, I see that this year they had a few select dates that were open in the winter months.  Hopefully that will happen again this next year!

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Rainbow Swiss Chard

There were some real head turners in the last few visits- some vegetables I had never even heard of before.  Rainbow Swiss Chard is a new variety for me.  It was so colorful and beautiful!  I did not play with the picture at all!  Another variety I had never seen was black okra:

Black and Green Okra

Black and Green Okra

Some of the vendors have such beautiful displays.  A lot of them group their tomatoes by color:

Cherry Tomatoes Varieties

Cherry Tomatoes Varieties

I had never seen these varieties of eggplants before, but there were many of them in several stalls.  Guess how many are in this picture:

Eggplants

Eggplants

The answer is ….

FIVE!

It really heartens me to see so many people shopping at the Farmers Market.  I recently watched “Fresh” a documentary on small sustainable farming.  I hope that the tide really is turning and not only will people start eating more locally (and fresh!) but that we can make it a strong, economically viable way of life.  My stepson complains that it’s very difficult for him to buy good, fresh and local foods because they are so much more expensive than processed foods up in Northern Virginia.  I truly think though, if we could instead of subsidizing large monoculture farms, subsidize the smaller farms we could really make it attainable for anyone in this country.  There are a lot of opinions floating around out there on farming, and I am by no means an expert.  But I do think that we can do better in farming, and that we could even bring more jobs back to this country by investing in and increasing the number of smaller farms.

On September 15, Mr. Lucky and I plan on going to the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello.  We think it’s pretty cool that we can spend a whole day at Thomas Jefferson’s estate and go to lectures and demonstrations and see vendors and learn about sustainable farming.

More information on the markets, and other markets nearby can be found here:  http://www.thefarmersmarket.co/

Pantry Reorganization

What to do on a snowy weekend?  Reorganize the pantry!  Also known as thrilling adventures in discovering how much pasta you actually have!  Ha-ha.  Yeah, I know, not exactly.

Right now we have two places to store extra foodstuffs.  We have a pantry in the kitchen, and in the little “studio” room off the kitchen, we’ve added a large wire shelf for extra storage.  Starting about nine months ago, we decided to start a stockpile (loosely) based on the extreme coupon clipping shows.  I really wanted to get into couponing to save as much money as possible, but soon found that it drove me a little bonkers.  It was too much for me to handle to clip coupons, check all the circulars, and go through a dozen websites finding out what that week’s deals were.  I was spending too much time doing something that didn’t save me enough money to compensate for the loss of sanity.  So, after a little trial and error I found my happy medium was just clipping coupons in the paper, and checking them against the circular.  I don’t go out and buy out the store either- I only get one paper, and leave it at that.  I get frustrated when I’m at the store looking for a particular item with a coupon, and I see the shelf has been emptied.  I am sure I could be saving lots more money, but that’s just not how I’d like to spend my time, and I think it’s rude to “clear out” a store.  We do buy things in bulk at BJ’s when I feel it’s warranted.

Food Shelf Before

Food Shelf Before

Here it is a jumbled mess.  In the kitchen, I have a large cabinet that we call the pantry.

Pantry Before

Pantry Before

It was becoming difficult to tell what we needed, or what we already had.  Now, I know some people have really beautiful pantries, where things are stored in nice containers and are labelled.  I’m not doing that….yet.  Maybe someday, but really, I just need to see everything.  I really wish we had pull out shelves for the pantry, but that might be a project for the future.  When we first moved in, there were no shelves.  We had to go out and buy melanine, had it cut to size, and then I added the stripping to finish the edges.  Thankfully the cabinet already had the pre-drilled holes for shelving standards, so we were able to just pop them in place.

Pantry After

Pantry After

Here is the pantry after.  It might not look hugely different, but it is much better organized.  My first objective was to organize everything so all the like-items were together.  Pasta came out, spices went in.

Food Shelf After

Food Shelf After

Ahhh, much better.  First, I got rid of the trash- extra plastic and empty boxes.  Then, I used a few extra gatorade boxes (from BJs) to store some like items.  All the pasta in one box, crackers and snacks in another, and “Beth town” in a third.  In our household, Beth town is reserved snacks just for me.  I can be a picky eater, and I like to snack.  So in order to keep a supply of snacks in the house for me at any time, we needed to designate my own area of things not to be touched so they wouldn’t disappear so quickly.  Generally, they are higher-calorie food items, and aren’t really good for Mr. Lucky to eat.  Having Cystic Fibrosis, I tend to burn through calories more quickly.

And for your viewing pleasure, here they are side-by-side for comparison.

Pantry Before and After

Pantry Before and After

And the shelf:

Shelf Before and After

Shelf Before and After

Maybe to pretty things up a little I’ll use some decorate tape to spiffy up the cardboard boxes…. what do you think?

PS- Is anyone else wondering why Picnik is closing??

 

Thanksgiving 2011

I know it’s been over a week since Thanksgiving now, but I’m still thankful.

Foyer Display Turkey

About two weeks before Thanksgiving I got sick with either an inner ear infection or I reached ototoxicity of the drug Tobi, or both.  The three doctors, and two nurses I saw couldn’t tell for sure what I was sick from, all we know is that the effects I experienced were severe headaches, earaches, dizziness, and some nausea.  I actually took a few days off work because of how dizzy I felt, and I will tell you that is rare for me.  Even though I have a chronic illness, I rarely get sick.  Part of that is testimony to the wonderful drugs that I can take which keep me healthy.  I don’t really even like to talk about it much because I honestly feel that I have nothing to complain about.  It was not fun, though, and I do become frustrated when I don’t feel well enough to do the things I want to do.  Or for that matter, even just do the things I need to do.  I am thankful that I am feeling much better, and my parents were able to come visit for a few days for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

My husband made a wonderful dinner for Thanksgiving (he really cooked the whole week and everything was awesome).  The turkey, apple sausage stuffing, and onion roll recipes all came from this year’s Real Simple magazine.  I particularly recommend the Turkey with vegetables, it was very delicious with an apple cider baste.

I’m so thankful for my husband, for my family, for the food we are able to put on our table, for my health, and for many other things.  I know I am blessed, and it is certainly one of the reasons why I call myself the Lucky Lass.

 

Apple Pie

The other week, a client brought in a bunch of Apples from the Shenandoah Valley.

Unfortunately, I do not know what type of apples they are, and I sort of forgot to photograph the pie first made.  It was beautiful though.

Here’s what was left of it the other day…

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

We used the Southern Living Cookbook’s recipe.  Yum yum!