Second Annual Locavore Dinner

Last year’s Locavore Dinner was such a stellar success that the public demanded a Second Annual Locavore Dinner, which was celebrated at a local lake late in the summer. Again, there was a complicated/clever/rigged scoring system created by Cheenius, and again, Cheenius won. Hmm. Scoring went as follows:

4 pts. if you grew/raised it yourself
3 pts. if it came from within a 50 mile radius of your household
2 pts. if it came from within a 100 mile radius of your household
1 pt. if it came from VA.

Freebies: you don’t have to count herbs, oil, vinegar, salt, or pepper.

Estimate each ingredient’s proportion of the whole and multiply by the point value, so the total for the entire dish is out of a maximum of 4 points.

And show your math.

The rules were promptly amended thusly by the non-Cheenius attendees: if you don’t (want to) show your math, you must submit a haiku.

Cheenius won again this year for Most Local with a potato strata created primarily of ingredients grown in her own garden; the Tiny Twosome won Best Tasting with an amazing biscuit-based peach cobbler; and, in the absence of other voters, I hereby declare myself the winner of the haiku competition with a heartfelt poem that is not fit to print on this site.

Thanks to the Cheeniuses for getting us organized and hosting another successful Locavore Dinner! Let’s do it again next year!

Locavore Dinner in Photos

The gorgeous setting, complete with local flowers from a City Market vendor and beeswax candles made by Cheenius herself:

table by the lake

We enjoyed local beverages from Blue Mountain Brewery, Champion Brewing Company, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Barboursville Vineyards, and Prince Michel Vineyard.

local beverages

Nadia’s bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed jalapeños were a close second in the Best Tasting category.

bacon-wrapped jalapenos

Mr.Dr. Cheenius made an addictive fruit dip with Caromont Farm goat cheese and honey from the Cheeniuses’ own bees. Apples and peaches came from Carter Mountain Orchard.

goat cheese dip

Mr. HP and I brought local beef purchased from JM Stock Provisions, thinking we weren’t just providing a delicious dish, but also crafting brilliant a strategy: our dish had a single ingredient (plus freebies salt and pepper) sourced from within 50 miles of our home. That’s a solid 3-point entry, with no math required!

local flank steaksslicing the steaks

Can you tell we were a mostly vegetable-based group? The winning potato strata, Ewe-nique‘s egg muffins (with sausage!), Annie’s veggie kebabs, and Melissa’s marinated green bean salad were all delicious.

sausage muffins and veggie kebabsa very local plate

Drumroll… the winning dish, a peach cobbler. It was fantastic.

peach cobbler

peach cobbler

To celebrate local food, you need local spirits. Cheenius, ever resourceful, curious, and talented, shared some homemade mead and blackberry wine with us. They were… not so good. But A for effort, Cheenius!

homemade mead and blackberry wine

Winners chose prizes from a variety of environmentally-themed goodies: magazines, books, the best honey around, and local Gearharts chocolate.

the locavore prizes

And finally, where better to pass around samples of Soylent than at a gathering of folks interested in eating REAL food? Mr.Dr. Cheenius ordered it out of curiosity and mixed up a batch at the end of the evening. It could have been that we were all too full from feasting, but it was fairly unanimous among those who tasted it: Soylent is terrible. I thought it tasted like pancake batter, if the pancakes were made of cardboard.

soylent: not local food

For more of Cheenius’ wacky adventures, see:
Cheenius’ adventures in homemade wine
A visit to Vermont’s Shelburne Farms
Cheenius fights the law: Urban Chicken Keepers vs County Planning Commission
Cheenius in Missoula: The Good Food Store
Cheenius and the Mushrooms, Part I

2014 Historic Farm Tour in Keswick

Saturday was the 5th Annual Grace Church Historic Farm Tour in Keswick. I’d been wanting to do it for years, and this year, when I was actually in town and free, I didn’t even know it was happening. Thank you Cheenius for the spur-of-the-moment adventure!

Having only a few hours, we decided to split our time among the Country Fair booths at Grace Church, the retired racehorses at Old Keswick, the antique cars at Linden Lane (where Cheenius’s father-in-law was an exhibitor), and the foxhounds at Keswick Hunt Club. The weather was ideal for a drive through the countryside, and we had a lovely time.

Farm tour map

Grace Episcopal Church

Grace Church

Grace Church, a gorgeous Gothic church built in the late 1800s, was hosting a Country Fair with craft booths, 4-H animal exhibits, dog adoption corrals, and food trucks. We bought our tour tickets and cruised through the fair, petting some animals and attempting to get some food (wait times were 30 minutes! food trucks are supposed to be fast, people!) before hitting the road to Old Keswick.

Llamas 4-H cow

(check out his drool!)

Old Keswick Farm

Old Keswick, a former racehorse breeding operation, is a foster home to several retired racehorses from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, but there wasn’t much to see at this stop. We walked through the lovely barn where a couple horses dozed in stalls, popped into the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s tent to see a possum and an owl on display, and took off. Fortunately there was a horse near the fence on the way out who was happy to relieve us of the carrots we had picked up in the barn.

Old Keswick Farm Old Keswick Farm horse

Linden Lane

Linden Lane’s enormous front lawn was host to an antique car exhibit, and we stopped by to say hello to Cheenius’s father-in-law and admire his prize possession. It turned out he had dropped the car off and gone on his own farm tour adventure, but all was not lost, because the exhibit turned out to be really interesting (I had been skeptical). The cars were shiny and pretty and so different in layout and design from today’s cars. Clearly, I am a knowledgeable car person.

Antique PackardAntique Corvette

Shadwell Market

Shout out to Shadwell Market for feeding us when the food trucks could not. Cheenius and I shared some Power Balls (nut/date/honey/crack) from Mudhouse, Mr HP got a sandwich, and when I admired the Brussels sprouts in the hot food display case but lamented that they had bacon, the fabulous kitchen crew offered to stirfry me up a batch sans bacon. So nice!

Keswick Hunt Club Kennels

Keswick Hunt Club was the highlight of the tour for us. Foxhounds everywhere! We got to lean into a puppy enclosure and play with some younguns, after they peeled themselves off the pile of napping puppies to come say hi. The kennel was full of happy, goofy adults, half of which got to come out and run around for a demonstration with the huntsman, whip, and kennel manager. Even non-dog-person Cheenius was smitten and confessed she considered puppy-napping on last year’s tour when the resident puppies were tinier.

Keswick Hunt Club foxhounds foxhounds and huntsman


So, in closing, a recap:

  • Food trucks should serve food quickly
  • Old cars are cool, especially turquoise ones
  • Shadwell Market workers are friendly and accommodating
  • Foxhounds are adorable, but probably not good apartment dogs (ahem, Mr HP)

Butter Churning Skill Share

On Monday night, our daring dairy divas Cheenius and Butter Boy, after honing their churning technique at home, presented their butter knowledge to an eager group at a crowded Transition Charlottesville Skill Share session. The presentation was fantastic, complete with expert commentary, audience participation, butter trivia and jokes (we learned there are no funny butter jokes), and buttermilk shooters. We tasted the final product on tasty Great Harvest bread and those of us who paid attention to the email and brought containers (thank you for your spare, Rachel!) took home some of the freshly churned gold. Your intrepid reporter’s favorite aspect of the evening was learning about making butter in a jar: pour in some cream, shake it for about 25 minutes — OR throw the jar in a backpack and go for a hike, ride a horse, mountain bike, etc etc etc — and boom, you have butter. Look for a Haute Pasture Research Experiment Report on that soon.

Thank you Cheenius and Butter Boy for a delicious evening!

butter cream

(we started with this)

churning the butter

(then we took turns churning)

shaking the jar

(and we took turns shaking)

butter in the churn

(we peeked a couple times for status updates)

antique butter stamp

(we did not use Cheenius’ antique butter stamp)

jar of almost-butter

(the jar butter is almost done)

bread for our butter

(butter vehicles)

jar of butter

(it’s ready!)

butter from the jar

(the jar butter)

rinsing the butter

(rinsing the churned butter)


(we did it! let’s eat!)

HP in Australia #2: Perth

Perth is a peaceful, clean, easy to navigate playground for outdoor activities, with its river setting, biking and running paths, and ubiquitous green spaces, capped off by the enormous (larger than Central Park) Kings Park. It’s not all about fresh air though: go downtown Saturday night for some fantastic people-watching, as the ladies (oddly, it really is just the ladies) get all gussied up to hit the bars. Pro tip: don’t wear flip flops if you go out in the evenings, as most places have a dress code banning them.

Favorite things about Perth:

Jacob's Ladder

The view from Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder, a popular workout location, is 242 stairs leading straight up to near the entrance to Kings Park. Go there early to share a great workout and fabulous views with half of Perth’s population. You will be sore for days.Lemon scented gum trees

Lemon-scented gum trees smell amazing and have a unique look. Find the column above at the entrance to Kings Park.

Western Australia coat of arms

In the Western Australia government coat of arms, the kangaroos are holding boomerangs!

wild kangaroos

Wild kangaroos! A thoughtful local took us to a lovely park-like cemetery north of Perth to do some kangaroo-spotting. They were all over the place, lounging in the shade and nibbling the grass.

Perth bike lanes

Extensive bike lanes follow the river, and lead into and around the city for bike commuters, bike sightseers, runners and walkers. Remember to stay in the left lane!

Australian raven

Perth coat of arms

The crows (actually ravens) here have the oddest voices, sort of like a long, strangled goat bleat–especially amusing when you get the Doppler effect from a flying crow. The birds around here are fantastic in general.

Friday food market

Twilight Hawkers Market in downtown Perth every Friday night serves tasty global street food in a festive atmosphere. Favorite stall (visually–we didn’t eat there): a French place that had a red carpet and chandelier.

I have a couple HP-relevant post planned, so this is just random travel musings; but I am happy to report the free range trend seems to be just as strong here as in Sydney!

Lucky egg

Now that Spring has sprung, I’m back to buying eggs from the vendors at the Charlottesville City Market rather than from the good folks at Market Street Market.

Liberty Farm eggs, Bentonville, VA

Saturday’s purchase was from Liberty Farm and included an unusually large egg. Sure enough, when I cracked it open–

double-yolk egg

two yolks! It was (they were?) delicious. But why do double-yolk eggs occur? They’re usually produced by young hens with immature reproductive systems that release two yolks at once. Less often, stress could make an older hen could pop out a double-yolker. Double-yolking can be hereditary.

For a household of only two humans, we go through A LOT of eggs, but this was my first double-yolk experience. In fact, double-yolk eggs are quite rare: apparently, the probability of getting a two-yolk egg is 1/1000, but I couldn’t find an explanation of that number and what it takes into account. One would think the relative probability of finding a double-yolker in a carton of local, small-farm eggs would be much higher than finding one in a carton of graded commercial eggs, because the USDA grading and sorting process typically excludes these abnormal eggs.

I read that finding a double-yolk egg is good luck. Seems it’s also good luck for the chicken, as the layer of your lucky egg is more likely to be a local, small-farm hen, and good luck for the farmer who sold you the lucky egg and pockets your cash. Everybody wins when you buy local eggs!

If you’re interested in other wacky eggs, check out


A Few Thoughts on and Pictures of Halifax Architecture

A note about these seemingly off-topic posts: While this blog is dedicated to helping to educate consumers about meat and animal products, and making people more aware of the treatment of the livestock and poultry whose meat, eggs, and dairy they consume, a natural extension of that mission is to promote eating local produce and other foods, and support restaurants that source ingredients from local farmers. Continuing in the sustainable lifestyle vein, we also encourage shopping locally for any goods, not just food, and being an engaged citizen in the community. These travel posts, while not directly related to livestock welfare, are relevant to the theme of participating in and supporting one’s local community. And putting them together spurs us to get out and explore new places!

My first impression of Halifax was that it was not the quaint seaside town I expected. There are many buildings that lack charm or personality–I was told by a friend that there is no city architectural review board, and that developers are allowed to raze historic buildings willy-nilly and replace them with whatever design they want, without regard to aesthetics. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s believable enough.

The more I walk around town, however, the more I am starting to spot really interesting architecture hiding in plain sight. Now that I know it’s lurking everywhere, I notice the cool stuff more and the drab stuff less. Here’s a little photo tour of some buildings that grabbed my attention. [Note: I know nothing about architecture or art. This is purely my uneducated, personal opinion about what I like.]

(Mostly Eating) Adventures in Halifax: Week 1

(Why do I eat so much when I visit Halifax?)

Day 1

Lunch at Bubba Ray’s because a football game required us to be at a sports bar. It was a fantastic sports bar as far as watching a game goes, but my nachos were subpar.

Dinner at Fid (motto: Local By Nature). Had the Farmers Market Inspiration again, in all its giant bento box glory. Took another crappy phone picture of it.

Fid Resto

Now that I compare pictures, I see that the dish is very similar to what I got last time, but that’s ok because it was delicious. This time I managed to stop eating and take home leftovers instead of hurting myself.

Day 2

Lunch at organic, locally-focused The Wooden Monkey. Had the rice bowl, add scallops. It was incredible. Spouse declared it the best restaurant in Halifax (he got the roast chicken and pesto sandwich, sub apple salad).

Dinner at home: grilled Nova Scotia salmon and veggies from Pete’s Frootique, which specializes in local produce. Pete’s is sort of like the Halifax Whole Foods, but it’s a small independent chain. The Halifax store has a gluten-free cafe and made-to-order breakfast wraps and salads.

Day 3

Ran through Point Pleasant Park to burn some of these restaurant calories. On the way I passed the Inglis Street Urban Garden at Inglis Street Elementary School. Lucky kids!

Inglis Street Urban Garden

 Day 4

Coffee at Steve-O-Reno’s. It was chilly and sprinkly so I did not lounge on the porch.


I had been told this was the best coffee in town, and I can report that it is pretty darn tasty–and very popular with the on-the-way-to-work crowd. They carry gluten-free goodies; I plan to return for an Eight Ball (nuts, fruit, coconut ground up and formed into a large ball).

Lunch from Pete’s ToGoGo (yes, that Pete): West African Peanut Soup and a custom salad. With a little adventure thrown in, trying to find it from Hollis St.

Pete's ToGoGo

The soup is much like my dearly beloved Spicy Senagalese Peanut Tofu from Rev Soup (sans tofu) and hit the spot on a dreary day. The salad packs a lot of ingredients into a small box. This would totally be my lunch spot if I worked downtown.

Day 5

Coffee at my office-away-from-the-office, Paper Chase. Great place to work and caffeinate and stare out the window.

Since it was a pretty day, for lunch I ferried over to Dartmouth for some highly-recommended fish and chips at Evan’s.

Fish and chips at Evan's

It was tasty, but I’m not used to that much fried all at once. One’s plate of food is not supposed to be a single color. Enjoyed the ferry ride and its views:

Halifax from the ferry

Because I was on a nutritional roll, when I got back to Halifax I wanted dessert. I stopped at World Tea House and got an oatcake (more brown food) but my favorite goody in the case was a shortbread cookie with an icing WTH, which filled me with glee until I realized it was the initials of the cafe’s name.

Dinner: back to the Monkey. I got the veggie stirfry, add scallops, which was tasty but not as good as that rice bowl. Oh that rice bowl. I tried a Nova Scotian hard cider, Stutz, and was pleasantly surprised. So I had a second bottle.

Stutz Cider

Day 6

I went back to Steve-O-Reno’s for that Eight Ball I spied on Day 4. It was amazing. Dates, almonds, cranberries, flax seeds. Cashews too, I think? And it was huge.

Steve-O-Reno's Eight Ball

The Eight Ball was my fuel for a long walk to the Hydrostone neighborhood, via The Grainery Food Co-op, which I had read about while researching Halifax CSAs and other local food resources. It was smaller than I expected (I was picturing something more like the fabulous Crozet Natural Foods Co-op, which, oddly, has no online presence. It’s not gone, is it? I haven’t been to downtown Crozet in several years), but did have some local grains and dried fruits, and a bulletin board full of local food info.

Walked down the cute strip of shops at Hydrostone Market,

Hydrostone Market

resisted the pastries at the patisserie, visited some of the neighborhood’s interesting little boulevards and hiked back home.

Dinner was at Jane’s on the Common. I did not take my usual crappy phone picture of my meal because I inhaled it and there was no time for pictures. I got a veggie rice bowl, add scallops, similar to my favorite Monkey meal, but this had a sweet green curry sauce. It was great. Jane’s ingredients come from local farms when possible, and the space is cozy and comfortable. Unfortunately, the restaurant is closing at the end of the year, so get there while you still can. I know I’ll be back.

Meet Yer Eats: Happy Piggy Photos

I’m working on assembling a real post on our fun and educational day visiting Babes in the Wood, Caromont Farm, and The Rock Barn (I, the squeamish pescatarian, watched a pig get butchered–and took photos, don’t worry) as part of the Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour. In the meantime, I wanted to share a few of my favorite (live) pig photos from Babes in the Wood. Those are some happy pigs. Enjoy!


Work has been crazy, making me not want to sit in front of my computer when I’m not at work, so I haven’t been a good blogger lately. Here are some catch-up items from the last couple weeks.

First: the Charlottesville Locavore Expo

Charlottesville had a Locavore Expo at the City Market a couple weeks ago. Charlottesville Tomorrow has a good write-up. I had an interesting chat with the girl from Homegrown Virginia, a new company helping local farmers and food producers to source their ingredients locally, and I had a gluten-free brownie sample to die for at the Integral Yoga table.

Next: Eat Local bingo. Forgive the crappy picture.

Eat Local bingo

This was hiding in the back of the new Buy Fresh Buy Local guide: a bingo card for eating a wide variety of local foods! The Piedmont Environmental Council is giving away prizes for completed bingo cards. If you are a nerd like me, you will want to find the bingo card in the back of your Buy Fresh Buy Local guide and have some fun (and eat some delicious local food) playing.

Finally: Gail Hobbs-Page’s presentation for the Blenheim Artisan Series

Gail Hobbs-Page

Cheenius and I had a lovely evening at Blenheim Vineyards for the first event of the Blenheim Artisan Series. Gail Hobbs-Page of Caromont Farm spoke about cheese making, animal husbandry, and local food, before screening a short documentary called The Rise of Southern Cheese, created by the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Cheese samples

We got to sample some delicious Caromont cow and goat cheeses, and drink a couple glasses of Blenheim wines. I liked the Viognier.

Blenheim Vineyards Viognier

It was an enjoyable and educational evening. I recommend trying to attend part of the Artisan Series. Again, I apologize for the picture quality, but here’s the poster with the remaining speakers.

Blenheim Artisan Series


Taste testing homemade horse treats

My sister visited from North Carolina last weekend, and she brought a couple bags of homemade horse treats from her friend at Carolina Pet Treats-N-Toys to undergo some rigorous scientific testing.

Seven horses and one dog analyzed and compared the horse crumbles and the horse cubes, and the result was: both were a hit!

The treats are all natural, with ingredients like oatmeal, carrot, sugar, molasses, and Cheerios. There was not a clear winner between the two types of treat; when offered both a cube and a crumble at the same time, one in each hand, the horses did not exhibit a distinct preference.

The horses paid close attention to the flavors, and carefully analyzed each treat. They all requested multiple samples to ensure they could give a complete report.

I rounded out my research with a dog’s point of view: two paws up!

Summary: all the horses (and the dog) loved these treats, and I was happier feeding these natural, homemade treats than the processed, commercial treats from the feed store.

For more information on the horse treats, or treats for your non-equine pets, contact Jamie Baldwin of Carolina Pet Treats-N-Toys, at 336-338-3186, or