A Locavore in January

From April to October I reap the benefits of subscribing to Fresh Fork Market, which takes a modern approach to the traditional CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.  Last winter they started a winter CSA, which I subscribed to and loved.  However, after going meat-free this summer, I decided to forgo the winter CSA due to its high meat content and seek out the foods I know and love from other sources.  Although I can’t wait to get back to my green FF bags full of goodies, I’m enjoying the hunt for local shtuff.  Snowville Creamery (milk and half and half), Velvetview Yogurt (’nuff said), Hartzler Dairy (milk and butter), and Mayfield Road and Mackenzie Creameries (cow and goat cheese, respectively) all have their products available at Heinen’s, which makes my life a lot easier (and tastier).  Here are the other sources of my local food this month!

North Union Indoor Farmer’s Market at Shaker Square

I have spent hours on Shaker Square at Dewey’s with my francophone and francophile friends, drawing sideways glances from the monolingual patrons around us as we chat the evening away.  All winter long, the North Union Indoor Farmer’s Market occupies two rooms and the hallway right next to my French-friendly coffee (and popcorn!) shop.  The market is open every Saturday from 9:00 – 12:00 from January until the end of March, when the market reopens as a traditional outdoor market.  This is one of the several indoor markets in Cleveland that let us locavores keep eating the good stuff all winter long!

January 7: I wanted EVERYTHING!  I came home with bibb lettuce, a dozen eggs, mushroom fettuccini, Blaze medium salsa and unsalted tortilla chips, spelt maple crunch, red potatoes, garlic, acorn squash, spelt crackers, amaranth, basil and pine nut cheese, and a fabulous bag of beans with over a dozen different varieties!

January 21: I was working, so my AWESOME sister picked up some goodies for me: a dozen eggs, onions, more Bibb lettuce, romaine lettuce, more mushroom Ohio City Pasta, Blaze’s mild salsa, and…BASIL!!!!!  She also gave me some Fresh Fork goodies that were abandoned at her house: potatoes, spelt flour, and the weedy looking kind of greens.  

West Orchard’s Farm Market

West Orchards is a 5th generation 70 acre family farm not too far east of me in Perry, Ohio, where you can pick your own strawberries and sour cherries in the summer months and buy fresh veggies and herbs from June through December.  I was directed to their market after complaining about the price of squash at the grocery store on Facebook.  Unfortunately the market closed this weekend for the winter, but I was fortunate to snatch up a couple end-of-the-season products, as well as an hour-long conversation on local eating and all that goes with it!

January 6:  On a quest for squash, I paid a measly $2 for a giant hubbard that was the size of my cat and also picked up a bushel of the season’s last apples!  (applesauce, please!)


My newest obsession: MyFitnessPal

In addition to obsessively checking Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader (along with my Craigslist and Groupon phone updates), I spend a lot of time tracking my sweaty activities online with Runkeeper and Daily Mile.  Recently [thanks to my big brother] I have added one more website/app to the mix: MyFitnessPal.

Ever since the big vegetarian decision this summer, I have been ultra committed to making sure the food I eat has enough “stuff” in it to power my body and let me get my sweat on whenever I want.  Contrary to popular belief, I’ve found that protein is pretty darn easy to get – through milk, cheese, nuts, beans, and even broccoli,  However, since I eat pretty healthily (most of the time), sometimes I don’t consume enough calories, especially on a day with a long run or double workout.

Enter MyFitnessPal.  With a quick set up, the site/app lets you know how many daily calories and nutrients are recommended (based on your weight, goals, and activity level) and allows you to add the foods you eat by searching the database, scanning bar codes, or entering info manually.  You can also add workouts to your “diary,” which then automatically updates your caloric and nutritional needs for the day!  (More sweat = more food!)

The BEST part of MyFitnessPal is the stalking option.  Not unlike other social media sites, MFP lets you post updates, upload a pic, and add and message friends.  And look at your friends’ food diaries.  Obsessively.  So you can bust them when they skip breakfast…or waste 1,000 calories on McDonald’s…or call beer and whiskey “dinner”…or eat non vegan cheese…all with good intentions, of course.  (:  It’s nice to have “friends” keeping you accountable for your food choices, and it sure is a lot easier to turn down the ice cream cake when you know you’ll have to enter it later for all the MFP world to see.

I’ve only been on MFP for two weeks, but it’s already integrated into my every day life.  Give it a try – I promise you’ll be hooked.  And don’t forget to add me – KPentek.

Take a little walk in the country with me

TITLE NOTE:  I secretly still love American Idol, even though I haven’t watched it since Taylor Hicks grimaced his way to the top.  Today’s title comes from Season ?? winner Scotty McCreery’s “Walk in the Country,” and its lyrics are perfect to introduce Sunday’s Fresh Fork Farm Tour.

If you haven’t yet heard me wax poetic about the wonders of Fresh Fork Market, cruise on over to their website – winter CSA subscriptions are available now!

Every fall Trevor from FFM organizes an all-day farm tour – we meet for coffee and scones in Tremont and head out to the real Farmville on a big ol’ bus.  This was our third year on the tour (us being my sister and me), and as always I absolutely LOVED meeting the farmers and producers that work hard all year to fill my belly with the freshest, highest quality food around.  We got to know their families, heard their stories, pet their animals, and learned about the impact we as a 1,000 share CSA have on the local community.  Oh, and we took some amazing pictures!

Stop 1: Lucky’s Cafe in Tremont

If you’re in the CLE and you haven’t been to Lucky’s, shame on you!  They’ve been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (watch the video here) and make everything (and I mean everything!) in house.  The place is always packed.  They’re famous for their Reuben sandwiches, but I especially love their coconut blueberry scones.  Lucky’s also taught us to sweeten our coffee with honey (local, of course!).  The coolest thing about Lucky’s is that Chef Heather is a Fresh Fork customer!  Every week Trevor brings her all the goodies he has leftover from the CSA pickups, and she works her magic in the tiniest kitchen I’ve ever seen!

Stop 2: Green Vista Farm, Wooster

At Green Vista (my former beef dealer) we once again met the Berger family (Berger…funny, I know!).  This is the man that singlehandedly debunked the image of hillbilly farmer in my head.  He is a true scientist, as raising grass-fed beef is a science – growing perfect, nutrient-rich grass, genetics and phenotyping, managing illness and stress, and lots of other things I don’t understand!  Because of movies like Food, Inc, Green Vista’s business is booming, and even though I’m not eating meat, I still advocate against factory farming.  While the other FFers bought steaks and burgers, I giggled at a spooky Skeletor cow and climbed on the tractors!

Stop 3: Moreland Fruit Farm, Wooster

This was my second visit to Moreland, and after learning about their Integrated Pest Management system (which boils down to not spraying until you notice a need…how is this not the norm??), we headed out to the orchards to eat pick some apples!  Nothing says fall like apple picking on a chilly October morning!  I left with a bag of Mutsus – yellow/green monsters that are pefectly crisp with a hint of tartness.  Délicieux.

Stop 4: Velvet View Farms, Big Prairie

This was by FAR my favorite stop.  This is where we get our yogurt, and I was super excited to meet…the cows!  It’s a true family farm, and all the cows have names – chosen by the two little boys.  The ladies are milked three times a day, and although some of the milk still gets sent away to Milkland, a lot is now magically made into yogurt – without leaving the barn…and within 24 hours!  Like our cheese “dealers,” the folks at Velvet View had trouble making a living on dairy production, so they decided to venture into yogurt production – a value-added product whose market value they have 100% control over.  We also enjoyed a hot lunch on the farm, prepared by FF customer, special education teacher, and caterer Clark Pope.  We got to wear these super sweet and fashionable plastic booties while we were there, but we also got to play with the cows!  I got licked.  Ew.

Stop 5: K & D Farms, Hartville

Okay, maybe THIS was my favorite stop.  K & D is the farm behind the wonder that is Maize Valley – home of the coolest fall festival around, complete with pumpkin cannon, corn maze, and pig races.  They also have the best sweet corn in Ohio.  And a winery.  But what I love the most is Pappy’s Pepper Butter.  And guess who we met?  Pappy himself!  I could have listened to Kay Vaughn talk for a week straight.  He taught us all about nutrient-rich soil and the dangers of GMO veggies, but in doing so he wove in stories about his ballroom dancing titles, marriage advice, and a whole bunch of grandpa-esque humor.  Before we left Kelly and I introduced ourselves as PPB connoisseurs and told Pappy we’d come down to Harville anytime to help him can!

Stop 6: Lucky Penny Creamery, Kent

This was cheese heaven.  Abbe from LP (chèvre!) and the Morrises from Mayfield Road Creamery (cream cheese, hvarti, gouda, brie, and more!) were all on hand to share their stories and samples with the group.  We visited both creameries last year, and I must say I was excited and proud to hear that both ladies are having trouble meeting the demands of their customers!  As an added bonus, Warren from Snowville Creamery (the only milk we drink) was there to share his expertise about the dairy industry.  He spent the entire day with the FF group, and it was great to meet the man who – again – singlehandedly changed my milk habits for good.  Snowville milk is not homogenized and SO CREAMY. When I need more than FF can offer, I get my Snowville milk from Heinen’s.   “Milk the way it used to be.”

At this stop we also watched a pig being broken down by a butcher.  Not my cup of tea lately, so unfortunately I have no pictures for you.  Désolée!

I would love to live on a farm – as long as it’s less than 10 minutes from a decent mall and 5 minutes from two Starbucks.  I am definitely a suburban girl, but it sure is nice to put the craziness away and get out to the farm from time to time.  (:

“It’s gonna do us some good to get down in the woods,
Take a little walk in the country with me.”

Got my dreams, got my life, got my love, got my friends, got the sunshine above

TITLE NOTE:  Natasha Bedingfield and her raspy voice.  Oh my.  I’m a sucker for anyone that writes her own tunes, sounds better live than on record, and plays a mean saxophone.  Today’s post title comes from her song “Happy,” which totally got overshadowed by “Pocketful of Sunshine” and “Put Your Arms Around Me.”

I spent last Sunday with some of my favorite people on Earth – my sister, nephew, brother and I drove up to New York to surprise my mom for her ?0th birthday.  I had already had quite the weekend (a kick ass PR at the Akron Half and that stupid good lunch at the VegiTerranean…which closed suddenly yesterday!?  So sad inside), so everyone was nice enough to let me sleep the entire 4.5 hours to Dundee.  My family is from the Finger Lakes Region of NY, and – except for a couple outliers – they are all still there.  The scenery there is jaw-dropping, and the weather belonged to mid-June, so we couldn’t resist an impromptu photo shoot after lunch at Glenora.

Seneca Lake from the Inn at Glenora

Photo jumping lessons with the Bean

Check out my hi-liter green Akron shirt!

At lunch we all ordered wine, then regretted it after tasting Conner’s grape juice.  It was a big, cold glass of sweet outside.  Then we remembered passing this sign…

U-Pick? Don't mind if I do!

We picked 45 pounds of grapes.  FORTY-FIVE!  And guess how much we paid?  A quarter a pound.  Stupid, right?  What’s even more stupid is that our measly 25 cents a pound is DOUBLE what Welch’s pays farmers.  How’s that for evil crazy big agribusiness?

Grapes and a bean!

We ate grapes the rest of the day, including the entire ride back to the OH.  The SMELL in the car was amazing, and I busted out the juicer as soon as I got home.  I shared the purple wealth with everyone last week, and my heart broke when I saw people paying $3.99 a pound for tasteless, seedless grapes at the grocery store.

After my 25 cent grapes last week and my third Fresh Fork Farm Tour yesterday (blog post to come), I am even more convinced that eating locally and seasonally is the way to go.  I am thankful to have the connections and the means to be picky about what I put in my body.

Last weekend was perfect.  The best race of my life, an exciting lunch, a day with my mom…and grapes!  “Why am I making this hard on myself, When there’s so many beautiful reasons I have to be happy.”

It just might be fantastic

TITLE NOTE:  Today’s blog title comes from the Pretenders’ “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”  I think I was born in the wrong decade to be a true Pretenders fan, but since this post is about Chrissy Hynde’s restaurant, I figured I’d check out a song other than “I’ll Stand by You.”  And – spoiler alert – Chrissy’s restaurant IS fantastic.

I normally don’t do restaurant reviews.  I am not a food critic, nor do I play one on TV.  In fact I would probably make a bad restaurant critic because I always like what I order.  HOWEVER, I have had my eye on this restaurant since I went meat-free in July and must share it with my [albeit small] blogging world.

VegiTerranean is a vegan Italian-Mediterranean restaurant and bar located in the trendy [yet sadly empty] Northside Lofts in Akron.  It’s uber modern inside and even has a little rock ‘n roll feel.  The menu is 100% vegan and so delicious that you don’t even miss the animal products.  (:

Since lately my menu choices seem to be limited to pasta, veggie burgers, and  salad, I was ecstatic to have an entire menu as my disposal.  And since I had just kicked the crap out of the Akron Half Marathon, I was ready for some yummy-tastiness.  I was too busy stuffing my face to remember what Brian ate, but Kelly and I ordered a bunch of randomness to share…

  • Stuffed Hot Italian Banana Peppers, Fresh Herb Risotto, Mozzarella and Basil Lime Brodo
  • Grilled Watermelon, Heirloom Tomatoes, Red Onion, Marcona Almonds and Local Green salad, tossed in a Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Homemade Potato Gnocchi Gratin with Leeks, Asparagus, Marcona Almonds and a Sherry Herb Cream Sauce
  • Sweet and Spicy Broccoli with Garlic
  • Sweet Potato Fries with Roasted Shallot Brown Butter and Fresh Horseradish
  • Carrot cake
  • Lemon/raspberry cake

My absolute favorite was the gnocchi.  I’m not really sure how they made a sherry herb cream sauce with no cream, but it was creamy…and animal-guilt-free.  We also decided that sweet potato fries should always be served with horseradish.   Check out some pics from lunch –  and be prepared to drool.

I give the VegiTerranean two thumbs up.  Or three Michelin stars.  Or five silver spoons.  Or whatever it is you’re supposed to give a restaurant when everything on the menu looks yummy-tasty and every bite you put into your mouth makes you sigh and exclaim, “Really?  Vegan?”  Let me know if you want to go.  Their fall menu just came out.

Pre-race excitement!

It’s just about bedtime for me, since I’m planning on being up around 4:00.  The marathon train starts with me, with stops in Mentor and Eastlake before heading downtown before six (did I mention our VIP parking pass?  I’m special, I know).

This weekend has been buzzing with marathon-ness.  If I couldn’t focus all week on anything but the race, it’s just gotten worse this weekend. 

Friday after school we headed to the race expo.  This year it was in Euclid because of construction downtown.  A lot of people complained about the inconvenience of coming to the eastside to pick up their bibs, but it was perfect for me.

Outside the expo...note my In Training shirt!

 We picked up our bibs, shirts, and goody bags and strolled around the expo a bit.  I was a little disappointed, because a lot of the vendor booths were EMPTY.  I definitely did not see Lululemon (although Bathfitter was there…???).  I picked up a bondiband for race day, along with a t-shirt and a stick of astro Bodyglide.

Yay for pink shirts and crisp, new race bibs!

After the expo, we headed to the Grovewood Tavern for some local eats and drinks.


Tonight, after a too-long encounter with sub-par refrigerator deliverymen, we headed to the Hyatt for the pasta dinner (I also had free tickets to that…told you I’m special).  We met a couple awesome people, including a Canadian running his first marathon who got blamed for stealing the water pitcher and a Buffalo-ian running his seventh marathon.  We laughed a lot and talked a lot of running.  Oh, and ate a LOT.

My B-in-L and me. Yes I have two plates. Don't judge me.

After the bus-lady took my brownie away and I gave her the evil eye, we headed back east with early morning marathon plans.  Now I’m double checking the charge on my camera, Garmin, and i-Pod and watching Without Limits, the Prefontaine bio-epic.  I’m trying to channel my inner runner.  (:

I can’t believe the marathon is finally here.  I’ve been training for so long that it’s hard to see past tomorrow’s race.  I feel confident in my training and in my race day strategy (and my outfit), so all that’s left is to run…just a regular long-run Sunday, right?  (:

Bonne chance to all my Tweeps and blends and real-life friends running tomorrow.  Much love.

Chia Seeds, part deux

Hello to the person that found my blog by searching “asthma stay away from me.”  I can tell we would be friends.

Speaking of stats, I have had 287 views of my post – Chia seeds – yay or nay?  It continues to light up every single day.  In the hopes of luring more strangers to my blog, I plan on capitalizing on the popularity of chia seeds.  Hence this second post: Chia seeds, part deux.

He used to be so dreamy. Wild Thing, you're a wack job.

I decided to try a breakfast recipe from Oh She Glows.  I think Angela is quite possibly the cutest thing in Blogland.  Plus she runs.  And is a vegan.  And hates factory farming.  And has an entire website dedicated to Green Monsters.  Check out her blog.

Anywho, I decided to make a non-vegan version of her Banana Soft Serve Vegan Overnight Oats.  It’s non-vegan because I don’t own almond milk.  (I drink Snowville Creamery‘s milk.  You  might call me a non-homogenized, local milk snob.  Trust me, you’ll never buy “regular” milk again.)

Here’s my version.

OSG’s Banana Soft Serve [non] Vegan Overnight Oats

1/3 cup oats

2 cup milk

1/2 t. vanilla

1 T chia seeds

1/2 scoop protein powder

Whisk these ingredients together and let them chillax in the fridge overnight.   Don’t worry if it looks like vomit.  Mine looked like this…

In the morning, toss 2 frozen bananas in the food processor and let them “process” for 5-ish minutes.  At first it will look like funky banana flakes, but I promise it will turn into an ice-creamy texture.  Yum.

Layer the chia seed mixture and banana soft serve in a glass and enjoy!

I thought this was pretty darn good.  The banana soft serve is damn good and a dessert when served alone (I’m adding mini chocolate chips next time!).  The chia seeds, oats, and protein powder pack a punch, which is just what I needed for my insane, sweaty day of activities.  TWO THUMBS UP!

Chia seeds – yay or nay?

I try not to be a food fad follower.  I’m not looking for “super” or “miracle” foods, but it seems they’re everywhere.  Gogi and acai berries, pomegranate juice, wheatgrass, flax oil, spirulina…the list goes on and on.  In Europe manufacturers aren’t allowed to use the term “superfood” unless they can back it up with HARD EVIDENCE.  I doubt that’s the case here in the US of A.  Real superfoods give you a lot of nutritional bang for your caloric buck.  Spinach.  Broccoli.  Salmon.  Whole grains.  You know, the good stuff.

But what about chia seeds?

I know what you’re thinking…chia?

The very same.  Everyone’s talking about them.  And while I’m in the animal-wearing-funny-costume mood…

You gotta love Etsy.

Anyways, so chia seeds have been all over running forums, and it seems that everyone I know is trying them – putting them in yogurt and kefir or in smoothies.  Someone at work gave me some to try, and I just threw a handful into my Green Monster.

Totally yuck.  Then I read up on them a little bit and found out you’re supposed to SOAK them first.  Then they look like this [yuck squared]…

I don’t know why they gross me out so much.  They’re gelatinous and squishy and remind me of bugs.  Gelatinous, squishy bugs that I’m supposed to actually put in my mouth.  Here’s the nutritional info…

In other news, I started my speed training this week (which for me meant trying to keep ≤ 9 minute pace) and got in another quick run yesterday to finish March with 63.1 miles.  I’m still coughing at night and after runs, so I’m hoping my week o’ rest ahead (aka Spring Break) kicks my cough to the curb once and for all.

What is your verdict of chia seeds?  Yay or nay?

More on Fresh Fork OR Where I get my food

DISCLAIMER: Due to my weak immune system, no running will be discussed in this post.  Deal.

Two summers ago I stumbled upon a newspaper article about Cleveland-area CSAs.  With a traditional CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), you buy a share of a farm and in return receive a basket of local, seasonal produce each week.  The food is ultra-fresh and your money stays in the community to help support small farms.

I called 5 or 6 farms in the area to ask about their CSA packages but wasn’t really sold on any of them.  Most CSAs offered a wide variety of veggies and greens, berries or apples, and a couple other items, like chicken or maple syrup.  I was looking for something more – a program that would allow me to limit my grocery store shopping and get the majority of our food from local sources.  Enter Fresh Fork Market, stage left.  Fresh Fork has relationships with over 70 local farmers and producers, so I can get meats, dairy, cheeses, grains, produce, and other amazing local products from one CSA subscription.  We pick up our food weekly (bi-weekly in the winter) and also have the opportunity to order add-ons (extra meat, milk, eggs, etc.).  Plus Fresh Fork’s founder and CEO, Trevor, rocks my world.

Here is today’s selection!

Insane, no?  That’s just too much awesomeness in one green bag.

  • one pasture-raised whole chicken
  • 1 pound sage breakfast sausage
  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1 pound Spelt Maple Crunch (**heaven in a bag**)
  • 2 pounds organic white spelt flour
  • 1 quart farmstead cow yogurt
  • 1 quarter peck Red Delicious apples (there were more; we ate two on the way home…)
  • 1/2 pound organic leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 pound mixed organic greens
  • 1 bunch of unidentified greens (it says red mustard, but that’s not right…)
  • 1 dozen eggs

PLUS I also came home with some extras today.

  • two 1/2 gallons of 2% non homogenized milk
  • 1 pound of GROUND DUCK!  Exciting!  I know!

If I can eat locally year-round in Ohio, you can do it too!

For a good read, check out Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  And if you’re too lazy to read, watch Food Matters.

P.S.  I will run tomorrow.  I will run tomorrow.  I will run tomorrow.  [please?]

14 point what! Oh, zero. (:

Today I was scheduled for 14 miles – my longest run EVER!

I’ve been going to North Chagrin for my Sunday long runs for the past month but wanted to change it up a little.  Since my B-in-L is on IR, I was runnin’ solo today.  I’m used to logging miles alone and enjoy running without having to constantly worry if I’m holding somebody back with my elephant pace (Runkeeper’s words, not mine).  So being the insanely perceptive person I am, I decided to head to CHARDON to hit the SOUTH Maple Highlands Trail.

This is what I found.

Not too bad, right?  A little slushy, but there’s…room for your feet.  I continued on…soon I found this.

No more packed snow, but there is still a path…sort of.  Keep on truckin,’ right?  Until I hit this.

ONE person’s crusty footprints.  And some deer tracks here and there.

No dice.  I turned around and headed to the Greenway Corridor – six miles north – for the remainder of my run (12.4 miles), which I completed on bone dry paths and city sidewalks.  14.00 miles.  No more, no less.

If you’re local, you’re laughing at my stupidity.  Friday we got DUMPED on with the white stuff, causing snow day numéro six. Even BP got sent home early – and then proceeded to get stuck in the driveway at work…and at home.  So even though today was a balmy 34 degrees, I should’ve thought twice before heading to Chardon, the BUCKLE of the Lake Erie snow belt. Silly me.

When I got home from my run, I made a Green Monster.

It still amazes me that you can’t find the spinach if you try!

I know what you’re thinking.  I look amazing.  And my blender is adorable.  AND why isn’t my green monster green?  Blueberries, my friend, can trump any color.

I’ve been fiddling around with the contents of my monster – today I put in some local berries (frozen strawberries and blueberries from last season), half of a local apple (from Chardon, I believe, lol), and a huge handful of – you guessed it – local spinach.  I added a few ounces of (are you getting the idea yet?) local milk and then ruined it all by putting in two scoops of powdered grossness.  If you have an alternative, please share.  Blech.  I’ve tried chia seeds and even oats, but the consistency is so yuck.  I’ve also discovered that blackberries are no good.  Seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

What do you put in your Green Monster?

Now my plug for local foods.  Fresh Fork Market.  Click below and check it out. ‘Nuff said.  For now, that is…

Also, don’t forget to head on over to Eat:Watch:Run.  Can you say cutest giveaway ever?  On second thought, don’t.  I don’t want you to win instead of me…