Alex Laughing Alone With Salad

Women Laughing Alone With Salad.

Fall Vegetable Salad

Salad:

  • 2 cups red oakleaf lettuce – Fresh2o, Stevensburg, VA
  • 1 medium fall carrot – Van Dessel Farms, Accomack, VA (Honey herb butter roasted, recipe to follow)
  • 1 small apple (CrimsonCrisp, maybe?), chopped – Rock Hill Orchard, Mt. Airy, MD
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Rosemary Chickpeatos (Or any kind of crunchy, nut-like thing, I just happened to have these in my cabinet)
  • ¼ cup cooked Quinoa

Dressing:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • (Try: 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar, or perhaps brown sugar? Note to follow.)

Honey Herb Butter Roasted Carrots:

  • 2 medium fall carrots – Van Dessel Farms, Accomack, VA
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley

You’ll want to roast your carrots a while ahead of time (I roasted mine the night before). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, toss together your melted butter, carrots, honey, and herbs. Place your well-rubbed carrots (and any surplus butter/herb mixture) on a baking sheet and roast until tender. I cooked mine for about 40 minutes (they were very robust carrots; short but quite thick in the middle), and they were still a little crunchy, which is how I like them. Additionally, in the interest of full disclosure, phrasing the recipe in this way makes it sound like much more of an exact process than it truly was. In reality I used this recipe from a blog called RasaMalaysia for inspiration; threw an indiscriminate amount of butter, herbs, and honey in a tinfoil pocket with a couple of meaty carrots; and cooked them until the end of the episode of The Great British Baking Show. Fortunately, the carrots are of amazing quality, and you really can’t go wrong with rosemary, honey, and butter. Anyway, the next morning I sliced up one of the carrots and tossed it into my salad with great results.

In terms of the aforementioned salad, for this you’ll also want to cook the quinoa ahead of time, according to the package’s directions. While your quinoa is cooking, mix the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and sugar/honey (if you want it) together in a small bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine. Once your quinoa is cooked and your dressing is mixed, toss it all together and drizzle with dressing. Voila! Salad!

Note: The original dressing recipe I used didn’t include honey or sugar (and was meant for 8 cups of salad…). However, I found that the dressing was a little too sharp with the mustard and the vinegar, so I think adding some honey might work well to soften it a little bit. But since I didn’t actually try that, I can’t speak to how well it will work (yet).

Alone with Salad

(Also check out that neat double-decker lunchbox.)

Now, as I noted before about the carrot situation, using actual measurements and directions for this recipe is massively overstating the amount of thought I put into it. I based the idea on this recipe from Food & Friends, a local nonprofit that provides meals and nutrition services to DC-area individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses. (They also do an awesome thing at Thanksgiving called Slice of Life where they sell pies and the proceeds go to their organization and to help provide healthy Thanksgiving meals to their clients. If you aren’t local or will be away, you can donate a pie to one of those Thanksgiving meals! So regardless, the organization gets money and SOMEONE gets a pie! You can even choose an individual salesperson/organization and often in-kind donations will be made to that organization. But this has all been one big sidebar. Piedbar.)

So I saw that recipe and thought “Hey, I have some fall vegetables!” And I’ve been looking for ways to use the huge amount of lettuce I got in last week’s bag from Fresh2o in Stevensburg, VA. You should definitely read that grower profile, because they say better than I ever could how awesome the lettuce was. You can also learn some neat things about the farmers and the packaging, which was totally awesome and keeps the lettuce so fresh (so fresh that it’s actually still growing) that I don’t have to worry about eating nothing but salad for a week because I have to work through an entire head of lettuce. Also, apparently, that makes it healthier for you! Long story short, it’s amazing and deserves much better than my higgledy-piggeldy salad concoction. As, incidentally, do those carrots…

The carrots are from Van Dessel Farms in Accomack, VA, just like my beets and potatoes from the Hash-Slinging Slasher. And man, are they awesome. Despite my slapdash approach to roasting, they held together beautifully and the flavor is incredible. A huge and distinctive difference from any random carrot you might pick up at the store. These carrots had character. Carroter, if you will. Plus, I feel alright about my roasting choice – there’s still some nice browned butter, honey, and rosemary flavor (really I just added the parsley because it was in the recipe and I have a couple of plants on my windowsill, I have no idea if it adds anything). The rosemary was also of my windowsill garden, lovingly grown all the way from teeny seeds to a slightly less-teeny plant. I tend to use it a bit sparingly, since it’s still so small it doesn’t quite have its feet under it yet, but I do love fresh rosemary.

That rosemary also meshed well with my crunchy ingredient, Rosemary Chickpeatos. I have no idea where she found them, but my loving mother sent me back with them after visiting her at Thanksgiving. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes. How could bagged chick peas match freshly roasted chick peas? I thought about the awful things I’ve heard about packaged kale chips and cringed. But boy was I wrong. They’re really quite awesome, THANKS MOM! The rosemary flavor matched up well but wasn’t overpowering, and they make a perfectly crunchy and protein-packed addition to my lunch. In lieu of such an unexpected surprise ingredient, you could just as easily use some kind of nut; however, I recommend you try to find some of these bad boys because they make a great salad crunch or even just everyday snack.

Since I’m going through pretty much every ingredient, I might as well tell you about the apple. Now, this didn’t come in my produce bag (I swear I’m going to make those morning glory muffins, and I won’t use the golden delicious apples I got until then). However, it is locally grown! A few weeks ago I went apple/pumpkin/flower picking at Rock Hill Orchards in Mt. Airy, MD. It was handily the best pick-your-own experience and probably one of the best overall experiences I’ve had. The farm had an apple orchard, vegetable patches, an herb garden, basically a whole field of pick-your-own flowers, a pumpkin patch, other pick-your-own fruits in the summer, AND a dairy farm (with their own ice cream and BABY COWS JUST WAITING FOR YOU TO LOVE THEM). In fact, I loved those baby cows so much that I don’t think I’ve eaten any beef since, and I’ve only eaten chicken twice! That’s how cute they were! Anyway, aside from the adorable conversion experience, they had a great little general store, cold and hot cider, the usual tchotchkes, and the greatest combination of things since coffee-Oreo ice cream: an apple cider donut sundae with pumpkin ice cream (you could’ve gotten any kind of ice cream, but why get something that isn’t pumpkin?). After an overwhelmingly wonderful day of picking produce and crooning over calves and inhaling ice cream, I returned with some pumpkins, wildflowers, and (obviously) apples! Only one had yet gone unused, and I believe it was a CrimsonCrisp. A nice, sweet, small apple who’s finally met her purpose in a friendly fall salad.

I have nothing special to say about the cranberries… I got them at the local Giant? Does that count? Same story with the quinoa, although this was my first experience with the grain so I have no standards by which to judge it. I made it in a rice cooker, which is a fun and easy way to take care of something I have no idea how to work with.

No meltdowns or smoke to report this time around. In fact, this salad (like most salads, I suppose), was so easy I threw it together (with the carrots and quinoa prepared the night before) in the morning before work! While making coffee and oatmeal! And then I ate it while writing this post!

Now visualize a picture of me, laughing alone with this salad.

Enjoy.

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A Lot on My Plate – The Hash-Slinging Slasher

Beet and Golden Potato Hash with Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 3 small golden potatoes, peeled and diced [From Van Dessel Farms, Accomack, VA]
  • 2 beets, peeled and diced [Also from Van Dessel Farms]
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 3 links of chicken sausage (I used chicken and apple sausages)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mustard
  • ¾ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • A pinch (or two) of salt
  • A dash (or two) of olive oil
  • Plus: 2 eggs

Start by peeling and dicing the onion, beets, and potatoes. This took a lot longer than I thought it would, since I diced them up to be quite small (maybe ¼-inch cubes, or at least shapes vaguely reminiscent of cubes). I also used four potatoes instead of three, but found that that made for too many (see note below concerning meltdowns).

Once you’ve finished chopping, heat a dash (or two) of olive oil in a medium-large saucepan. Sautée the onions over medium heat, and once they’re slightly underdone, add the potatoes and beets with the thyme, oregano, and  a couple pinches of salt. Cover the pan and stir occasionally until the beets are tender and the potatoes have a nice golden-brown crisp to them.

While the beets and potatoes are cooking, stir the maple syrup, mustard, and sausages in a small bowl. I chopped my sausages into fairly large pieces, but it might work better if you take the sausage out of the casing and mix it that way. This will make the sausage pieces closer to the size of your beets and potatoes. When your beets and potatoes have cooked a little further (but aren’t quite finished), use a separate pan to sautée the sausages. If you have extra glaze mixture, you can save it to throw onto the hash when you’ve mixed it all together.

Once the sausages are cooked and the potatoes and beets are crispy on the outside, add the sausages to the hash and toss it together over medium-low heat, adding any extra mustard sauce. While the flavors of the hash are coming together, poach your two eggs (or three or however many you want). I like them poached both because poached is the best way to eat eggs and because the light creaminess of the poached egg balances out the sharpness of the mustard and the earthiness of the beets.

Place your egg on top of (or alongside, I’m not trying to tell you how to live your #life) the hash and enjoy! (Get it? It’s a HASHtag!)

Note: If you’re looking for something a little extra to add to your hash, a hollandaise sauce might make a nice addition. Use it instead of or in addition to the mustard glaze. It (hopefully) should complement the beets and sausages nicely.

The Hash-Slinging Slasher

(You’ll have to excuse my great lack of skill in the photography department. Not only am I working with my tiny/outdated cell phone camera and poor kitchen lighting, but I also don’t entirely have the artistic eye for food photos. Yet.)

For this recipe, I used two ingredients that came in my produce bag: beets and golden potatoes, both from Van Dessel Farms in Accomack, VA. Ordinarily (well, lately) I try to stick to a vegetarian diet, but when I saw this recipe for maple mustard glazed chicken sausage with roasted potatoes and apples, it sounded so good that I had to try. (Plus, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for chicken sausage.) I decided to adapt that recipe into a hash (inspired by this red flannel hash) for several reasons. First, roasting things takes an awfully long time, and I wanted to be sure I got the potatoes right to that crispy outside, smooth inside consistency of a nice potato hash. Second, I wanted to use my apples for morning glory muffins instead of roasting them with the potatoes and sausage. And third, I really love a poached egg.

The potatoes cooked up nicely, although I’m not sure if their flavor would have been all that different from an ordinary yellow potato in this dish. The beets, however, worked really well and their quality was pretty apparent. Because they were cut so small, they became nice and tender in just enough time for the potatoes to get perfectly crispy. I have two more beets from my produce bag, though I’m not sure in what recipe I’ll use them. (I have a shortlist at the moment, which consists of beet and black bean veggie burgers, a beet and ricotta grilled cheese with watercress [also in my produce bag], and a spicy beet and lentil soup. Suggestions/adaptations are welcome and encouraged!)

Everyone (especially my roommate and neighbors) will be happy to know that I did NOT set off the smoke alarm during this recipe! I did make a lot of smoke (between the onions, which I overcooked a bit, and the sausages, which I “seared,” read as “burned, but only on one side”). That being said, I also had two medium-sized meltdowns… One over the incredible amount of time it takes to properly dice potatoes, and once because  four potatoes turned out to be WAY TOO MANY and the pan was too small and the proportions were all wrong and it was just downhill from there. But after all the fuss (a reprisal of the semi-affectionate term “Brakedown” seems appropriate here), it turned out to be a pretty reasonably easy dish to whip up, as long as you’re alright with slogging through dicing for the first bit.

I cooked up a storm this past weekend, so look forward to a few more posts throughout the week about other dishes featuring the delicious products from this week’s bag. I’m also planning on trying a few more throughout the week, and will hopefully preface each by reading a little more about the farms my food is coming from so I can tell you about that experience. Stay tuned!

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A Lot on My Plate

Hello, World! This is my first post! I’ll use it to give you an idea of who I am and what I’m doing here and why I’m blogging about it. My name is Alex, I live in Silver Spring, MD, and I love to cook. I also love dogs, books, and puns. I work in Bethesda, MD, as a Technical Editor, which sounds much more exciting and skill-based than it truly is.

Oh yeah, and I recently joined a CSA! CSA, for those of you who don’t know, stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and is a way for farmers to sell “shares” of their crop directly to consumers. My CSA is actually a group of local farmers, working through an organization called 4P Foods. Every Friday, I’ll come home to a fresh bag of produce, straight from the farmers! I also happen to be a big and long-time fan of Clean Fairfax, and when I told her my Veggie Tale, fearless leader Jen Cole suggested I blog about it for the Clean Fairfax site. A lot of my produce will be coming from Virginia (and the surrounding area), and I’ve always thought about sharing my (mis)adventures in cooking with the great wide internet, so it sounded like a deal made in heaven. I decided to call this blog “A Lot on My Plate” because I’m constantly overwhelmed and am looking forward to having a lot of fresh, local ingredients on my plates!

Joining a CSA in the winter is a little bit unconventional, I know, but here’s a visual of what I could get:   Winter_Week_3-cdbf9d8c2e

Looks pretty tasty, right? Well, today I’m expecting my first delivery! Here’s what I’ll get in this week’s bag:

  • Fall Carrots – Van Dessel Farm, Accomack, VA
  • Gold Potatoes – Van Dessel Farm, Accomack, VA
  • Local Kombucha – Spicy Ginger & Lavender Mint – No. 1 Sons, Arlington, VA
  • Portabella Mushroom Caps – McDowells Mushrooms, Avondale, PA
  • Red Medium Beets – Van Dessel Farm, Accomack, VA
  • Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – Fresh2o, Stevensburg, VA
  • Ruby Red Grapefruit – Paramont Citrus Farm, Clermont, FL
  • Stone Ground Cornmeal – Woodson’s Mill, Lowesville, VA
  • Watercress Bunch – Mock’s Farm – Berkeley Springs, WV
  • Yellow Delicious Apples – Crown Orchards, Albermarle, VA

I don’t know about you, but I’m awfully excited about it. Every week, 4P emails me a newsletter with what will be in that week’s bag, along with storage tips, recipes, and even a couple of fun facts. To start, I’ll probably post once or twice a week (or every other week, depending on how quickly I devour my haul) with a new recipe I’ve tried. I’ll try to include helpful pictures and descriptions, as well as maybe some anecdotes, fun facts, or puns along the way.

Cheers!

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Clean Fairfax Reusable Bag Giveaway!

Clean Fairfax Reusable Bag Giveaway!

The first 50 people who sign up to become a National Wildlife Federation (NWF)EcoLeader  will receive a free reusable Clean Fairfax shopping bag. The bags can be used when you are grocery shopping, storing materials, or traveling. It is also be shaped into a small ball, so you can store it and take it when you are on the go. You can use it for your personal needs, or present it as a gift for your eco-friendly family, coworkers, and friends for the holidays.

Why should you join EcoLeaders? Learn more about it here.

Here are the rules:

  1. Sign up to become a NWF EcoLeader here

  2. Where the section says “who referred you,” click on “other” and type in Clean Fairfax

  3. Completly fill out your profile, including declaring your EcoMission, and profile picture

  4. Send your profile link and mailing address to hala@cleanfairfax.org

*Only one bag will be given out to the accounts made for each individual (many accounts of the same person would not be accepted).

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Environmental News Roundup – October 21, 2015

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Mom’s Organic Market Herndon Grand Reopening

Join us for the Grand Re-Opening of Mom’s Organic Market in Herndon, featuring local tastings, henna art and more.

Clean Fairfax is pleased to be in attendance at the grand re-opening of Mom’s Organic Market in Herndon, VA. There will be a Naked Lunch – an all organic eatery featuring soups, bowls and raw juices! Come by and do some grocery shopping, try the local tastings, henna art, and much more. 5% of Grand Re-Opening sales will be donated to Clean Fairfax.

If you would like to volunteer, please send an email to cfc@cleanfairfax.org. We could use a few extra pair of hands, and we have fun things planned throughout the day.

Friday October 23 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday Oct 24 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sunday October 25 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

Molly's Sketchbook: Back to School Lunch Bag

As Schools Buy More Local Food, Kids Throw Less Food In The Trash

As hungry children stand in line each day for lunch, many school districts across the country are making an effort to serve food that was grown locally. When there was an increase of local food being served, the children ate more healthy meals and threw less food in the trash. Washington, D.C. school districts has been promoting this effort. Other schools across the U.S. are also following this route as well.

Obligatory Selfie Avec Camera

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) Photography Competition

Do you love taking pictures, the environment, and wildlife? NVCT is holding a Second Annual Nearby Nature Photography Competition. Up to five photos can be submitted. The deadline is on midnight November 2, 2015. The winners will be announced in mid-November, and prizes will be from local businesses and organizations. Additionally, the winning photos will be included in the next edition of the Stewardship Connection, NVCT’s website, Facebook page, and other NVCT publications. More information can be found here.

Solar-Powered Glowing Bicycle Path In Netherlands Inspired By Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist and designer has created a stunning glowing bike bath. At night, it is illuminated by glowing pebbles and LEDs, which resembles Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night painting.

The path was created using glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LEDs. The glowing path assists bicyclists stay on track when they ride on night. Similar beautiful environmental glowing paths are also in some parts of the U.K. This might be a new trend that catches on other parts of the world.

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Environmental News Roundup – October 14, 2015

Environmental News Roundup – October 14, 2015

Greenhouse pic

Big Apple-based Big Farms growing greenhouse in Culpeper

BrightFarms, a greenhouse aquaponics developer, has opened its doors to the public in Culpepper County, Virginia. This project has increased the production of local produce and 24 new jobs. Most of our produce comes from California, Florida, Arizona, Mexico, and Canada. This causes the price and travel time of the produce to increase, and the quality to decline. In addition to the aquaponics system, there are interior beehives that assist with the pollination. Since this new project is local to Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, it cuts the time and cost of transportation, while growing produce that is free of pesticides and GMOs.

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Johnie Forte, Jr. Memorial Environmental Education Grant

The Johnie Forte, Jr. Memorial Environmental Education Grant is open to all Fairfax County Public and Private Schools, clubs, and programs that reside in schools. Fairfax County Schools and environmental clubs can earn a grant of $250-$500 to carry out their environmental projects involving sustainability initiatives, litter prevention and control, recycling, reuse, composting etc.  

All requests must include an itemized budget. Additionally, they need to be completed by the end of the school year, unless more time is specifically requested. Projects which are awarded grants are invited, but not required to present their program results at SpringFest 2015.

*This grant is sponsored by Clean Fairfax and Fairfax County Recycling Program.

Lexus Made A Cardboard Car That Actually Drives

Recently, Lexus reviled a car that is made out of cardboard, and runs on an electric engine. Over the steel and aluminum frame, the car included 1,700 recyclable sheets of cardboard. The team consisted of five people. Together, they came up with the digital design, modeling, laser cutting, and assembly. The car was on display at the Grand Designs Live event in England.  

Solar Panel 2

Two tales of one village

Last October, Yirca, Turkey went through a devastation of many olive trees from a coal company. Late last year, officials declared in court that the destruction of olive groves illegal. In the same village, GreenPeace has installed solar panels electricity systems in the village’s school, mosque, and cemetery. Moving away from the dependency of fossil fuel, now the village can use renewable energy powered from the sun. The installation of the solar panels included the village’s school, mosque, and cemetery. With the help of local people, volunteers from eight different countries, and GreenPeace, the residents from Yirca can enjoy renewable solar energy, and remove dependency from coal.    

 

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Digital Responsibility is Offering an Environmental Scholarship

Digital Responsibility is Offering an Environmental Scholarship

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Our friends at Digital Responsibility are offering a $1,000 E-waste scholarship to high school, college, and graduate students, who are interested in the environment.

“The purpose of this scholarship is to help you understand the impact of e-waste and what can be done to reduce e-waste” (Digital Responsibility).

For more information, check out their website and be thinking of the best 140 character application you can! Hurry up, the deadline is on April 30, 2105!

 

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Document Shredding

Document Shredding

Shredder, Crushed, Paper, Flakes, Paper Strip, Shredded

Document Shredding Event on March 21

Fairfax County will host a document shredding event on Saturday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Mason District Government Center (6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale 22003).
We will not accept paper documents from businesses at these events. Please remove all paper from binders and remove binder clips, plastic page covers and binding. Information stored on film or computer disks and credit cards will not be accepted – paper documents only.
All documents will be securely shredded on-site by a private contractor and the shredded material will be taken to a local recycling facility for processing. For additional information related to shredding events, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/recycling/shredding.htm.
Each of these events are free services for Fairfax County residents. No business waste will be accepted at these events. Please visit the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program website – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/recycling – for additional information about trash and recycling topics in Fairfax County. You can also contact our office by calling 703-324-5230, TTY 711.
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