"Living Sustainable Earth Stewardship"

VTGW began as a small, mom owned & operated venture, with many ideas of how to offer consumers what they are seeking. With many changes necessary for growth, natural ingredients bath & body products continue to be the main focus of VTGW. A recent addition of featuring farmer's market vendors, emphasizing the support of the Local Movement, will be highlighted weekly. Striving to provide all Earth patrons with what YOU are seeking, VTGW is your destination. Enjoy the journey!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Food From The Islands, Vermont that is...

Sofrito Ingredients
Clockwise: Sweet pepper, yellow onion, garlic,  fresh cilantro & oregano, Sea salt & Black peppercorns, lemon, and green pepper. Center stage: tomatoes from Mr Harvest.

Finished product

Recipe for Sofrito

Fresh cilantro & oregano (the oregano came out of my garden)
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (Mr Harvest)
1 clove garlic, crushed (Mr Harvest)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper, chopped
8 small to medium tomatoes, chopped (Mr Harvest)
Lemon juice, fresh squeezed from 1 lemon
Olive oil & Achiote oil* (oil typically used in Spanish cooking)
Salt & pepper to taste

Add olive oil to medium saucepan to heat; chop all veggies necessary to recipe. When oil is heated, add garlic to saute for 1 min. Add onion, both peppers & saute for 3 mins. Add tomatoes, saute for 5 mins. Add juice from lemon, chopped herbs, and lower heat to simmer. Simmer for about 10 mins, then add achiote oil for color; salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Once cool, can be transfered to a jar for storage; you can also transfer to a Mason jar and allow heat to seal the lid.

*This recipe can be put through a food processor and used the same day, if needed. I prefer to saute my ingredients, store, and use as necessary. I'm not a "fresh sauce made every day kind of girl." I'm a busy mom who chooses to prepare ahead of time, and when needed, then use what I've prepared. Quicker for me, and I think the "aging process" adds more flavor to the dish.

Kale Chips (Mr Harvest)
(recipe to be added on another post)

Bruschetta (the tomato part [tomatoes from Mr Harvest])
[recipe to be added on another post]

Mr Harvest
South Burlington Farmer's Market, Summer 2012

Yes, I opened this post with a recipe. And there are recipes to follow on future posts.

Writing about a produce vendor is different than writing about specialty food vendors. And this is my first. Based out of South Hero, VT, Mr Harvest is a certified organic farm by NOFA-VT (Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont). http://nofavt.org/programs/organic-certification There is also a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) available, which can more information can be found on www.mrharvest.com

What I purchased initially from this family was strawberries, garlic, garlic scapes, and tomatoes. Each week, I try to pick up more, such as the kale one week to make kale chips (they didn't last long, they were so good!)  Some of the produce available this market season:
-bell peppers
-garlic (& scapes)
-swiss chard & kale

Mr Harvest can be found at the following places:
-Their farmstand in South Hero, VT
-South Hero Farmer's Market (South Hero, VT)
-Essex Farmer's Market (Essex, VT)
-Fletcher Allen Health Care Farmer's Market (Burlington, VT)
-South Burlington Farmer's Market (South Burlington, VT)
-local area stores
-CSA program

I will be adding more information about Mr Harvest as the season progresses, along with other produce vendors (I made the bruschetta using ingredients from Mr Harvest & another produce vendor I'm hoping to highlight here). Here's to another fabulous market day!

The Idyllic Vision in a Mason jar

The Vermont Switchel Company
South Burlington Farmer's Market, Summer 2012

I sit to write this post, sipping on the last of this week's Switchel (mixed with sun brewed iced tea & fresh juiced pineapple lemonade).  I have wondered all week how to truly compose this piece, and my epiphany came through this morning @ the usual hour: early and without warning. So are the lives of writers and authors; the muse comes to whisper in my ear what I needed to sing all this time.

I met Susan Alexander, Switchel's founder, at the South Burlington Farmer's Market, last month.  As my eyes swept the numerous tents for who was there and what to take home to savor, I stopped in for a sample. I had my two boys in tow, which is the typical vision when you see me. I fell in love with the sample, looked over the sizes available for purchase, and the Mason jar captured my heart. Just about everything and anything I can put into a Mason jar goes there, so it was easy for me to make the decision to snap it up. I've also discovered, it lasts a week for me, so it's the obvious choice for this busy mom on the go.  I engaged in a conversation with Susan, and after mentioning my own business ventures, on hold pit stop, I walked away with this: enjoy being a mom at this time. My kids would grow, creating room along the way for me to get back to my passion, and the journey along the way would be the greatest. I've not looked back since. Thank you, Susan.

By this time, you are all (my readers) wondering, what is switchel? Switchel is a blend of honey, apple cider vinegar, ginger & water; historically, its origins go back to colonial times here in New England. More noteably, referred to as "Haymakers Punch," it was used as a thirst quencher during haying season. The ingredients in switchel are high in potassium, a much needed electrolyte for replenshing what is lost during labor intensive activities. Which is why I purchase mine for use as a pick-me-up in the afternoons after a busy morning (about 2 oz or the size of your average shot glass), and most importantly, as a boost before my trip to the gym (roughly 6 oz), as I've begun triathlon training to keep up with my boys (another story on another blog outlet).

Susan's passion for creating the current formula has historical family roots, as her husband  recounts his grandparents making batches for consumption during haying season; as well, she was introduced to its taste about 25 years ago; falling in love with this tangy beverage set the gears to move towards bottling and selling. Of course, as we moms can attest, life's ingredients of work and children can send us on the detour we need to take and, if we are still passionate about something as wonderful as switchel, when the time is right, it will happen. For Susan, it did.  In the early part of June (this year), after years of refining and perfecting the formula, The Vermont Switchel Company launched during a tasting at Dealer.com. 

Now, just where can one find switchel?  The Vermont Switchel Company can be found at the following farmer's markets:
-Richmond Farmer's Market (Richmond, VT [Fri 3:30-7 pm])
-South Burlington Farmer's Market (South Burlington, VT [Sun 10 am-1 pm])
-Stowe Mountain Resort Farmer's Market (Stowe, VT [Fri 11 am-3 pm])

As a note, switchel is not only a straight up beverage. You can mix, as I noted in my opening paragraph.  Now, I do have to tell you, I have tried another mix, and it was pretty good for an afternoon after a crazy morning; I tried this on a weekend when I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything that required use of heavy equipment.

Switchel Toddy

2 oz BeefEater's Gin
4 oz fresh juiced lemonade
6 oz Vermont Switchel
8 oz sun brewed iced tea (with lemon, of course)

Combine the above ingredients in a 20 oz straw cup, ice if you prefer. Sip and enjoy!

"SO GLAD I had a bottle of Vermont Switchel in my fridge after mowing the lawn---....refreshing & hydrating---...makes me feel renewed...."  -KC W.

For more information on The Vermont Switchel Company:

http://m.facebook.com/TheVermontSwitchelCompany (please Like their page and show your support for local business!)

My beverage runs dry, and my post is complete. Looking forward to going to market today to get my next Mason jar and enjoy some shopping.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

                                                    And it started over a passion for pickles...

  Hey folks!  Pull up a chair, take a seat with your smart phone, whatever way you are reading this blog and come into something new for this mom.  I am venturing into writing about market vendors, their products, where you can find them, and a little background on each vendor.  The person who fueled the fire for me to write about vendors is my first feature, Michele Carson of Vermont Pickle.  I have known Michele for almost five years, and have seen some of the great changes that have brought Vermont Pickle to where it is today.  What gravitated my interest in her products is the garlic, which is the catalyst for her success today.
                                       Michele @ South Burlington Farmer's Market, July 1st

  Vermont Pickle started its journey in 1994, at the Rutland County Farmer's Market in Rutland, VT.  Michele began with Rhubarb Jam, Pickled Green Tomatoes (still a product available to consumers), and food related craft items; offering consumers something different seemed to peak her interest and its a food love affair she's perfected over time.  After discovering pickled garlic, through a vendor (no longer in business) @ a fair, she found the signature item that would take center stage for her small, made in Vermont, specialty food company.
From left to right: Hot Carrots, Carrots, Fiddleheads (limited time only), Snap Peas, Dill Beans, Maple Sweet Pickles, Dill Pickles, Hot Dills, and Garlic.

Michele recalls the memorable milestones for Vermont Pickle, from obtaining a distributor for her products, qualifying for a small business loan, and growing beyond her small kitchen she started in.  Other great moments have been placing first @ Farm & Food Fest 2000, and taking second place @ the International Pickle Fest, both for garlic.  She enjoys going to various markets and festivals, meeting new consumers and indulging their quest for specialty food items.

I asked Michele for a moment that wasn't in her favor, which turned out to be a batch of garlic that didn't turn out well; this far from deters her from pushing forward to succeed at what she does best, providing quality products for consumers.
As a small business owner, Michele offers this advice to anyone wanting to start their own business or looking to expand on an already existing small business: start small and do your homework first, most importantly, love what you do.
I close this post with a recipe, one of many that can be found on Vermont Pickle's website; as a garlic lover and an omnivore, listed below is a yummy pasta dish to try (can be vegan, non-vegan, & gluten free, if needed).

Garlic Angel Hair Pasta

2 Tbsp Olive oil
6-8 cloves, Vermont Pickle Garlic, chopped
1 14 oz jar Artichoke Hearts (not marinated)
1 6 oz package of sliced Baby Portabella mushrooms
1/2 lb Angel Hair pasta

Start water  to boil for the pasta, and follow package directions (angel hair is so fine, it really only needs 5 mins to cook pasta).  Heat oil, in a skillet.  Drain artichoke hearts, and coursely chop.  Add garlic to skillet, along with mushrooms, to saute for about 1 min.  Add artichoke hearts, season with salt & pepper, saute for about 1 min.  Place prepared pasta into a shallow serving platter, pouring vegetable mixture over pasta.  Serve while hot.  Serves 4-6.

Visit Vermont Pickle today!