Happy Independence Day! We took a long bike ride through a new neighborhood this morning, carved up a watermelon, and are on our second pitcher of herbal peach iced tea with lemon wedges and mint sprigs.
I intended to have a festive and fitting post about Virginia’s Historic Triangle (in a way, the birthplace of the U.S.) for you today. But I changed course because it’s not quite polished and ready yet, and I have several other bits and bites bumping around my brain to share with you.
First, I have restrained myself from taking pictures of every weekly CSA box we’ve received from Snow’s Bend Farm since April. It’s our first year in a CSA, and though I am growing weary of not having the freedom to pick my own vegetables each week, I have to admit that it’s been exciting to try varieties of produce I’ve never come across at farmer’s markets or stores.
This week, I could not stop myself from pulling out the camera for you, because they gave us brilliant magenta okra. Magenta! I think technically it is called red okra, but that is probably just because the person who named it wasn’t familiar with the full color vocabulary of paint sample cards, lipstick collections, and clothing catalogs. Apparently the pink hue disappears when you cook it. I will probably admire it for a few more days before I do a silly thing like cook it though.
If you are outside the South and happen to be curious about okra, my favorite way of eating it so far is pickled. If you’re so inclined, you can order jars from Wickles, a small business in Dadeville, Alabama. When David and I first presented boiled frozen okra to my West Coast family they were turned off by its sliminess, but pickling gives it more of a crisp texture and enhanced flavor.
Besides the tomatoes and shallot in the CSA picture, the other new veggie this week is rattlesnake beans. I’ve never cooked with them before, but their name takes me back to childhood in California. Though I never saw a poisonous snake personally, we used to watch and listen carefully outside in the sun, especially as my siblings and I ran through old, unproductive orchard land behind our house, imagining that a spooky man living in a small, abandoned shed back there would shoo us off his property any second.
Well, I didn’t realize I had so much to tell you about okra. Onto the second bit!
Though Earth Fare is significantly smaller than Whole Foods and carries many of the same products, it also seems to stock unique items that they don’t. I saw Peet’s Coffee, for example, and I don’t think I’ve noticed that outside the West Coast.
However, I had lunch at the store, and must say that I was completely unimpressed with the prepared foods. The hot bar was full of cheesy and meaty dishes, none of the 4 soups were vegan, the roasted Brussels sprouts looked droopy, and the three items I tried were all too salty, overcooked, or over-seasoned for me. Lots of people in work clothes seemed to be enjoying their lunch break there though, so maybe it is just my taste buds. :)
Anyway, I was excited about the Power Snacks because they have no sweeteners other than date paste- no agave, honey, maple syrup, or refined sugar. Plus they are packed with superfoods like maca, chia, and camu-camu. And they come in portable, relatively un-messy, easy-to-eat little cubes. All that, and they still taste pretty good!
I got two packages at Earth Fare, then found a third flavor yesterday at our local health food store, Manna Grocery. It looks like Navitas might publish the recipes for the Power Snacks on their website, which would be fantastic. They are also inspiring me to go back to some of the recipes from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive books, which are similar in combining nuts and dried fruit into chewy, slightly sweet, nutrient-dense, energizing, easily stored bites.
Lastly, I signed up for six weeks of online courses about plant-based nutrition through Cornell University, and today is the first day of class. I’m excited to learn more than what I’ve read in books, and of course I’m sure you’ll find interesting facts and findings on here soon.
In the meantime, Happy 4th of July! Hope those of you in the U.S. enjoy the holiday and the summer celebrations!