Greetings from Virginia!
I have sincerely missed sharing recipes with you all. My move has left me in a much longer state of limbo than anticipated, as my kitchen is still sitting in boxes and will be through the Spring. I'll try and keep my update as food oriented as possible though.
As soon as summer hit, I jumped on the road and moved just south of Washington, D.C. on the Virginia side for a new job. Florida had its good moments, but I've been looking to move north for a long time now. Even though I've been here for months now, I still catch myself smiling spontaneously at the realization I'm finally someplace new. I was able to experience my first real autumn, and I'm looking forward to seeing snow this winter.
I'd have to say the most difficult part of the move was finding food to eat. The stores here are all different, and I used to shop at a co-op in Tallahassee which had everything I needed. Thus far, a grocery store named Wegman's has been holding me over pretty well. Their prices are about what I paid in Florida and their organic grocery selection is broad. My cooking is limited, but I've browsed through most everything and made a mental note of what to seek out from local, organic farms.
Which brings me to the fact I have not had raw milk or milk products since leaving Florida. I really miss my raw milk. I can tell I have less energy and my body is craving the calcium I used to supply it with regularly. In Virginia, it is illegal to sell raw milk. Instead, you have to buy into a cow share, which gives you the legal right to consume the milk since you own the cow. Local farms use the money from the cow share to feed and take care of the cow, and then distribute the milk to those people who are paying for its care. I've been using coconut milk for my coffee and eating coconut ice cream to hold me over, but it's not the same.
The closest cow share to me is in Richmond, which is over two hours south. Avery's Branch Farms provides not only raw milk through their cow shares, but eggs, pork, poultry, and several other delicious items. I've been speaking with Joy, who co-owns the farm with her husband Tim, and they are looking to expand further north. If you're in the area, but sure to send them an email to let them know you're interested!
I was able to make it into DC in early November for the annual Metro Cooking Show. The expo had several organic booths set up, thankfully, so I was able to snack and find some new favorite vendors.
I like to snack on granola mixes since it's non-perishable and crunchy. I used to get in in bulk from my co-op, so I hadn't tried any up here yet. A company called Michele's Granola, based out of Maryland, was at the expo and I was able to sample all their flavors.
I'm happy to say their Cherry Chocolate Granola is my new favorite! The guy handing out the samples was surprised I was able to pick out the secret that makes their granola the best immediately - they bake it - which means their granola is basically a giant bag of crumbled oatmeal cookies! If you haven't tried it yet, be sure to get two bags because you will eat one in a single sitting the first time before you learn how to control yourself.
Another great find was a company called Northwoods Gourmet Girl, based out of Maine. Her specialty are homemade canned goods, such as jams, jellies, ketchup, chutney, relish, and other handmade items. I sampled through everything, but decided to take home the blueberry jam, with the small intact blueberries found wild in Maine. I love how the jams have whole fruit still in them. I'll be ordering the cherry one next.
Funny story, as I was sampling the ketchups, some women took a huge spoonful of the habanero relish to sample and could not stop tearing up and coughing. Did they not realize a spoonful is basically eating at least one whole habanero? That junk is spicy! Anywho, the ketchups were a welcome break from commercialized ones I've had. These were thick and rich with home grown tomato flavor. I'll definitely be stocking up.
Of course I found the cheeses. Everona Dairy is a Virginia supplier of raw milk cheeses, which were phenomenal. It took me a while to make a decision, but I took home a wedge of the Vegetable Ash Piedmont. And I greedily ate the whole thing myself. With their Herbs de Provence baked chips. The well seasoned chips were very light and delicate, which melted in my mouth accompanied by the creamy, sweet sheep's milk cheese that had an extra sweetness surprisingly from the vegetable ash.
It was a perfect snack on a rainy day with a good book. Sigh, now I'm just making myself hungry.
Le Grand Fromage is not affiliated with any company mentioned in this post. I was not asked to author a post regarding any company, nor was I compensated in any manner.