Weekends stand out on my calendar. They’re what I count down to, they move along the weeks and months of the year.
For example, this weekend, a food festival, the next I’ll be in San Diego, and after that, off to a concert in Virginia Beach with girlfriends.
But now, those are seemingly some of the last weekends of summer that remain. Then it’s September, and with that comes cooler days (hopefully!), fewer vacations, and a sense that the end of the year is approaching.
I’ve been a little quiet on this space this summer because the weeks and weekends have been filled, from sweating along Boston’s Freedom trail with Tom (even the Northeast isn’t immune to heat waves in July, apparently) to saving a newborn turtle on South Carolina’s shoreline with my sister. Stories and photos to come soon.
But I haven’t been silent regarding food on other fronts, as you’ll see on my blog at work, The Front Burner. (Of course, no puppy pictures posted over there.) Here’s a quick recap of some of my food-related stories that I’ve worked on over the past few weeks.
- I started a new occasional series on the Front Burner blog profiling vendors at the region’s farmers markets. So far, they seem to be a hit, and I’ve enjoyed chatting with many of the producers that I regularly buy from, including two of my favorites, goat cheese from Sweet Valley Farm Dairy and fruits (ohmygoodness, the three weeks of apricots!) from Clyde. The idea behind the series is to better connect the community with our food producers, since that’s one of the goals behind farmers markets. Strengthening the relationships can only be good for everyone involved — and many vendors have already told me that they’ve seen an increase in business since they were featured.
- Twenty-one pounds of blackberries have graced my kitchen this summer, picked over two mornings, as you’ll read in the newspaper’s food blog. And that’s not an exaggeration. At $1.20 a pound at Hill Farm in Colonial Beach, the blackberries practically force themselves on you, finding their way into your 9×13 and 8×8 kitchen pans, an empty box lid and a strawberry picking bucket. I had no problem using them all up, either, I’m proud to say: lots of jam (Merry Christmas, friends!), lemon berry preserves, maple bourbon berries (calling out for homemade vanilla ice cream!), galettes, pie bars, cocktails, pancakes, a mojito infusion, a bourbon infusion, and two bags in the freezer. Whew. Next up at the farm, figs!
- “Do you want me to pick it out or do you want to?” Nancy Ochoa asks many customers on a recent morning at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market. “Oh, this one is real good,” she says, promising the orange or yellow flesh of the watermelon would be perfectly juicy. She’s become known as something of a “melon whisperer” at her family’s stand, and as we all know, there’s nothing quite like a perfectly ripe summer melon. I have plans to pick one (or two) up tomorrow. I profiled the family’s farm and market stand in this fun story.
- Ali Stafford has blogged about food for years over on Alexandra’s Kitchen, a beautiful and easy-to-use site filled with seasonal recipes that almost always seem to turn out right. It’s become a go-to resources over the past few months, so I was excited to meet Ali earlier this summer. You can find out more about her site and her plans (and photos of her adorable kids!) in this story and this quick blog post.