Heritage Harvest Festival [Charlottesville]

This is a continuation of my post detailing my adventures at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. This blog post was previously published at The Southern Belle Blogs.

This is probably my favorite photo out of them all.
This is probably my favorite photo out of them all.
TJ and I
TJ and I

For lunch, I ate at Gryffon’s Aerie (grass fed beef burger with aioli, arugula, local tomato) while my mom ate at Bada Bing (philly cheesesteak). My burger was absolutely delicious while mom’s cheesesteak had a nice heat to it. For dessert, we shared a refreshing popsicle from King of Pops (lemon basil). It was delicious (which I’ve had their popsicles a couple of times before in Atlanta).

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That afternoon, after leaving mom in a nice breezy spot, I went to watch Jeanine Davis’ presentation on Unusual Edible Plants & Fungi for Home Gardens. Fun fact: Jeanine is a horticulture extension specialist with North Carolina State University (my alma mater). Listening to her presentation made me want to try growing wasabi again and is making me very curious about the status of the ginseng I planted last fall. It was a great presentation and she brought lots of goodies – grey griselle shallots and Japanese hull less popcorn seeds for us to plant and a dried ramp spice rub (which smells delicious). I haven’t had the opportunity to try ramps before and am delighted experience them.

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We walked around, checking out some of the other sights – such as the farm animals. I love goats and cannot wait until I can have a goat of my own!

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Before we left, I made it a point to stop back by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and take advantage of their 3 for $5 seed packet special (and no shipping!). SESE is one of my favorite companies to order from every year, right next to Baker Creek. I went with some seeds that were on my wish list (White Sage, Tulsi Kapoor Holy Basil, German Chamomile, Resina Calendula, Carolina Gold Rice), a few that sounded interesting (Seminole Pumpkin – which Jeanine discussed in her workshop, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine, Monticello White Sesame), and one “practical” seed packet (Georgia Green Collards).

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My goodies.
My goodies.
Thank you to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation for making this a great weekend for my mother and I! I hope to come back again next year and encourage everyone to go at least once in their lifetime.

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Heritage Harvest Festival [Charlottesville]

Cross-posted from The Southern Belle Blogs.

I finally made it to Monticello! I have been wanting to visit Monticello for years now and ended up going this weekend for the 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival. The Heritage Harvest Festival is this huge even

The first thing that you will notice when you arrive at the top of the mountain is the view. The view is gorgeous.

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The garden at Monticello is amazing. It is basically my dream garden. There were so many varieties of plants (many, like fish peppers, I identified by sight) that I could probably have simply explored the garden all day. I want to go back on a non-festival day and really browse the garden.I’m also jealous at the large amount of fig trees and the size of the orchard! One day…~!

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I’ve been wanting to grow these little peppers for a while now.
I’ve been wanting to grow these little peppers for a while now.
This was such a neat idea for growing beans that I snapped a photo to share the idea with my boyfriend.
This was such a neat idea for growing beans that I snapped a photo to share the idea with my boyfriend.

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The Tasting Tent seems to be the highlight of the event. We made our way around the tables for the Tomato, Melon, and Pepper tasting. There were so many different varieties that neither of us tasted every single product. We did have our favorites though – the main one being a tomato by the name of Nepal. I MUST have seeds for this one next growing season – it tasted like sugared tomatoes, that delicious touch of sweetness.

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The first cider we tried from Castle Hill Cider was a bit to dry for our taste (Levity), but the Serendipity was perfection. We both ended up purchasing a bottle of it. Back Pocket Provisions was at the top of my list of vendors that I wanted to check out. We tried all three of their Bloody Mary mixes (Bloody Brilliant, Bloody Bangkok, Bloody Baja) and decided that Bloody Brilliant was our favorite. We purchased 3 jars of it. I’m not a big Bloody Mary fan but I loved the taste of their mixes and even more so, I love that they use local farms for their tomatoes.

American Heritage Chocolate
American Heritage Chocolate

Barefoot Bucha was a bit hit with my mother and I as well. I love Kombucha but she has never tried it. We both tried the ginger kombucha, which we preferred over the Elderflower Sunrise. I ended up buying a 1/2 gallon of ginger. What is neat is that the container is refillable!

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I had been curious about Falling Bark Farm’s Hickory Syrup since I had heard about it. It is an interesting taste and though I didn’t buy any then, I later purchased a small jar from the shop at Carter’s Mountain Orchard. I have followed Farmstead Ferments on social media for a while and was thrilled to see them there. My mom and I tried the strawberry mint water kefir. It was both of our first times trying water kefir and we enjoyed how refreshing it tasted. When we went back to buy some later that day, they were out. :-/ What was really neat is that they had kombucha scoby’s for sale as well. I purchased a small jar of hand-harvested salt from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. There were several other food vendors we tasted – they were all delicious. The Peppermint Dark Chocolate Sauce from Willie Byrd was delicious and the sage vodka (?) was quite an interesting experience.

Part two will be posted tomorrow! 

Charlottesville KOA [Charlottesville]

If you are in Charlottesville and looking for a budget-friendly place to rest your head, I suggest checking out the Charlottesville KOA. Located about 10 miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Charlottesville KOA is the place to go to experience peace and quiet in the mountains. This campground is a small one but don’t let that stop you. The staff was fabulous when we checked in (very helpful – even providing us with a great map of the area) and the facilities are very clean.

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Even though the pool normally closes on Labor Day, it was still open because of the heat. The water was certainly nice and refreshing! The pool was surrounded by trees and since we were the only ones in there, it felt like our own private oasis. There is a laundry/game room which we checked out (but never utilized – even though we had talked about playing a game of pool or air hockey), as well as a playground.

There’s also a fishing pond/nature trail you can check out on the property. I really liked walking the nature trail and the fishing pond was nice to gaze upon. Now keep in mind that there is a poison ivy out there. I did find several good sources of jewelweed however, which is known to help soothe poison ivy (as an herbalist, it tickled me to find so much jewelweed).

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There are three different types of cabins you can book: a one room cabin, a two room cabin, or a cottage. For our one room cabin (which sleeps up to 4 people – and provided us with plenty of room), it cost only $65 a night when we booked. We did have to bring our own linens, but the cabin provided us with a cable tv, AC/heat, electricity, and a ceiling fan. The larger cottages have their own bathrooms attached but since all of the cabins were located right near the restroom (and like I said, this is a smaller campground), that wasn’t an issue.

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One of the nicer perks was free wireless internet on the campground as well as free cable tv. All in all, this was a great campground and provided us with a nice and relaxing place to stay.

Charlottesville KOA
2016 Season: Open March 11th – Close November 13th
3825 Red Hill Rd.,
Charlottesville, VA 22903
434-296-9881

Easy Baba Ghanoush [Recipe]

Did you survive hurricane/tropical storm Hermine okay?

Other than our garden looking like a hot mess and a couple of issues with our fence, we made it through relatively unscathed. But while everyone raced to the grocery store to purchase milk/bread/eggs, I went and purchased tahini, champagne, and tofu, among other things. I have a growing cache of mini eggplant in my fridge that have been begging to be used and I finally realized on Friday what I wanted to create with them.

Baba Ghanoush.

Just the word alone is fun to say. The taste however is out of this world. I’ve never had baba ghanoush before but it seemed like the perfect thing to make with the eggplant from my garden, plus a couple of garden tomatoes thrown in.

What makes my baba ghanoush a little different from most is the addition of roasted garlic. I’ve never roasted garlic before but there is something about the creamy caramelized garlic that is delicious!

Black Vernissage Tomatoes, Gretel Eggplant, Fairy Tale Eggplant
Black Vernissage Tomatoes, Gretel Eggplant, Fairy Tale Eggplant

 

The little purple ones are Fairy Tale Eggplant and are about the size of my pinky. Though I planted Hansel – none ever produced.
The little purple ones are Fairy Tale Eggplant and are about the size of my pinky. Though I planted Hansel – none ever produced.

Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dish considered to be an appetizer. There are as many variations out there of baba ghanoush as there are cultures. The main ingredient in all of them seem to be eggplant, specifically eggplant that has been roasted or grilled so that the skin becomes charred and easy to remove, leaving the inner flesh soft.

At this point, the tomatoes had already been removed and smashed.
At this point, the tomatoes had already been removed and smashed.

This dish does take some time to make. But you don’t have to stand over the stove. Once I put my vegetables in to roast, I checked on them every 30 minutes or so to gauge their tenderness.

Though not a pretty dish, it is delicious and so simple. I served my baba ghanoush with cucumber slices and bagel crisps.
Though not a pretty dish, it is delicious and so simple. I served my baba ghanoush with cucumber slices and bagel crisps.

I wasn’t sure how I would like the tahini as I’m not a fan of sesame seeds, but the nutty taste of tahini (plus the texture) reminded me of an almond or other nut butter. I’m already looking for other ways to use tahini. I’ve posted my recipe below – enjoy! This will certainly be a dish that I will make again.

Easy Baba Ghanoush
total cook time: 1.5 hours| serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 medium or 14 mini eggplant
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 small bulb garlic
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • salt, pepper, olive oil

Directions:

  1. Let’s get started on roasting the garlic. Preheat the oven to 375*. Cut off the top of your bulb of garlic exposing all of the cloves. Drizzle in olive oil, salt, pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in oven.
  2. If you are using medium size eggplant, you’ll want to slice them into chunks. If you are using mini eggplant, prick the skins several times with a fork. Add to a baking dish with your tomatoes. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in oven.
  3. The tomatoes/eggplant will roast for about 45 minutes until tender. Once tender, remove from oven. The garlic will take about 1 hour to reach a mushy stage.
  4. Let the eggplant cool to the touch. Peel away the skin, scooping the soft insides into a bowl. Add tomatoes and smash together. I like a little bit of texture to my baba ghanoush which is why I decided not to use a food processor. I think that it helps prevent some of the “sliminess” that the dish can sometimes have.
  5. Add lemon juice and tahini. Combine.
  6. Squeeze the garlic bulb, releasing the cloves. I’m a huge fan of garlic so I used the whole bulb. You may want to add a couple of cloves at a time, combining and tasting until you reach a level of garlic that you enjoy.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a touch more of tahini and lemon juice. Serve.