The Farm Bistro in Cortez, CO

the farm bistro cortez

It’s always exciting to pull into a tiny town in the middle of nowhere and find a bustling restaurant focused on local and sustainable food and drink sources. We stopped for lunch in Cortez, CO on the way to Durango and chanced upon The Farm Bistro, a charming little equine-themed (decor, not food) restaurant with a small retail area full of local meats, eggs, produce, grains, prepared foods, and body products. We picked up some local pastured eggs, steak, sausage, and a phenomenal (local) honey dill mustard. Lunch was lovely, and a few days later when we spent a couple nights in Cortez, we were happy to return for dinner.

the farm bistro cortez local goodsthe farm bistro cortez

The Farm Bistro sources much of its produce from its own organic farm in the next town, and the owners are dedicated to purchasing as many ingredients as possible from local farmers. The bar serves local beer, wine, and spirits, and the service and food are great!

the farm bistro cortez principlesthe farm bistro cortez local meat

(Note the yak ranch meat in the photo above–how often does an East Coaster see that?) We were in Cortez to visit Mesa Verde National Park to see the large, well-preserved Native American cliff dwelling ruins. The Cortez/Dolores/Mancos area is also home to fantastic hiking and mountain biking. All three towns have breweries too, if you like local beer as much as you like local food!

Parsnip Party!

Cheenius is here to tell us a tale of parsnip wrangling. Thanks, Cheenius!

As everyone knows, Cheenius loves to make things from scratch — because who wouldn’t want to spend way more time and effort on soup then anyone else in her circle? But, in this case, Cheenius was feeling pretty proud of having grown her own parsnips, and needed to show them off.

whole parsnips

You’ll notice the actual parsnips look unlike anything you’ve ever purchased at a grocery store, and more like unmentionable body parts from Jabba the Hutt. Turns out they maybe needed a little more water than Cheenius gave them, which meant they turned woody and cankerous.

[Ed: For purposes of comparison and poking fun at Cheenius, here’s a picture of normal-looking parsnips -]

normal parsnips

After some research, Cheenius learned that she needed to chop out the middle woody parts, which left her with not much to roast:

chopped parsnips

Not to worry! The recipe called for a leek, so there was a little more volume in the roasting pan. Phew!

roasted parsnips

After roasting, simmering, blending the various bits, and then tripling the amount of cream (I mean, c’mon: if anyone appreciates adding dairy it’s Cheenius!), the soup actually turned out quite good:

parsnip soup

[Ed: Cheenius did not take a picture of the actual finished product, so the above is a stock photo.]

[Ed: Get it? Stock photo?]

[Ed: It’s not really a stock photo, it’s from this recipe. Sorry, I cannot resist a pun.]

Mr. Cheenius commented on a certain grittiness to the dish. Evidently Cheenius got a little lazy when it came to actually washing the parsnips, and also doesn’t own one of those vegetable scrubbers (Christmas gift idea, anyone?). Still, they agreed that this could easily be their main go-to root vegetable soup, and extra dirt just means it’s that much more homemade. Here’s the recipe if anyone is inspired (thanks to Marie Taylor for sharing!):


1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into medium-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1 1/2 cups (about 1 large) chopped leeks, white and light-green parts only
4 sprigs lemon thyme, divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium roasting pan, toss parsnips with oil. Roast, covered with foil, 20 minutes. Add leeks and leaves of 2 thyme sprigs; toss to coat with oil; splash with wine. Roast, covered with same foil, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 30 minutes. Discard any burned bits.

In a large pot, bring veggies and 2 cups stock to a boil; reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes; let cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend soup on low until smooth. Return blended soup to pot; add cream. Bring soup to a very low simmer; season with salt and black pepper; add enough of the lemon juice to cut the sweetness to your deisred level.  Add remaining 1 cup stock to reach desired thickness.

Anybody else have a good parsnip recipe?

Reflections on a Juice Cleanse

Hello friends. As you may know, recently Mr. HP celebrated a milestone birthday, and with that came a month-long food and drink binge for the entire extended family.

pain killers

Add to that the horribly depressing winter weather we had until early April in Virginia, and you get a few people in a state of suboptimal health.

Accordingly, in late March, the ever-adventurous Cheenius, always-obliging MrDr Cheenius, and I decided to do a juice cleanse after the final birthday party to kickstart a new era of good feelings. Fortunately for us, Charlottesville is home to The Juice Laundry, an organic, cold-pressed juice company that offers several types of cleanses to the Central Virginia area. We chose a medium-strength 2-day cleanse, but a wrench was thrown into our juicing plans by a nasty snowstorm that interrupted juice production, delaying juice delivery by a couple days. The new schedule didn’t suit my plans, so the Cheeniuses forged on alone.

Day 1 for the Cheeniuses was a bit rough as their abused systems angrily complained, but by Day 2 they were flying high. I believe the word “magical” was used when they raved to me about feeling the toxins leaving their bodies, and they plan to do a reset cleanse quarterly. Based on their reviews, I eagerly scheduled my cleanse for the following week. Below are my notes.


The Juice Laundry 2-day “Normal Wash” cycle. 6 juices + 1 NOMÜ nut milk drink per day. I chose the Creamy Cashew NOMÜ.

Normal Wash juices are:

  • Gentle Green: kale, spinach, cucumber, grapefruit, apple
  • Red Load-ed: red pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber, lemon
  • Rinse + Refresh: cucumber, grapefruit, pineapple
  • Green Agitator: kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, parsley, ginger, lemon
  • Rinse + Recharge: filtered water, lemon, pineapple, maple syrup, cayenne pepper
  • Gentle Green: kale, spinach, cucumber, grapefruit, apple
  • NOMÜ: Creamy Cashew: filtered water, cashews, Medjool dates, cinnamon, vanilla bean, Himalayan pink salt

A cup of black coffee is allowed, but I abstained during my cleanse for the full detox effect.


From the Juice Laundry’s site:

Juice consumption allows your overworked digestive system to devote more energy to detoxifying, cleansing, purifying, and healing your body and strengthening your immune system.

The Juice Laundry cold-presses and doesn’t pasteurize its juices in order to maximize nutrients and beneficial enzymes and microorganisms.

This cleansing argument resonated most with me, based on my post-celebration physical state:

A cleanse is as much about what you’re leaving out of your body as it is about what you’re putting in.

Also: 2 lbs of produce in each juice!

Also: Why not? Sure, there are plenty of nay-sayers out there, but when it comes to nutrition nobody agrees on anything anyway. If something sounds interesting, the only way to know if it’ll work for you is to try it yourself.


Day 1

First juice

Juice 1: Gentle Green. Smells highly vegetal but has a sweetish taste from the apple. Actually very good. Finished it around 10:30. Am not hungry now, but keep thinking about food, probably because I know I can’t have any.

Juice 2

Juice 2: Red Load-ed. Smells like red peppers, and I’m not a big fan of red peppers. The carrots are the main flavor, and I do like carrots. Overall not bad.

Mid-morning: Feeling totally distracted from work (even more so than usual).

Lunchtimeish: Freezing (even more so than usual). Not sure if it’s related to juicing.

Juice 3

Juice 3: Rinse + Refresh. Yum! Fruity! Finally! Pineapple is the main flavor. Crisp though, not too sweet.

2pm: Starting to wonder how I’ll get through all 7 bottles in 1 day.

Juice 4

Juice 4: Green Agitator. Ingredients are intimidating. Also, starting this one at 3pm, feeling a bit of time crunch. Smells very kale/spinachy. No me gusta. Must power through. It’s easier if I do a big exhale after swallowing and don’t breathe in the odor.

5pm: Feel kind of sad. I miss food.

Juice 5

Juice 5: Rinse + Recharge, a little after 5:00. Sweet and refreshing, with a sneaky cayenne burn. Less burn w/ the same exhale through the mouth trick as used for #4.

Juice 6

Juice 6: Gentle Green again. It’s fine. I’m cranky and irritated. This cashew milk had better be amazing.

Juice 7: Cashew milk blend. Yummmmmm. Can take big sips happily. It’s sweet, hearty, comforting.

Bedtime: Stomach started growling as I tried to fall asleep.

Day 2

Morning: Unfocused, blue, blah. Not physical, just mental. Hard to blame it completely on the lack of food since the weather is crap and work is dull. Need to drink faster today to be done with everything by 7:30 for dance class. I miss food. Constraints make me angry.

Mid-morning: Working on #2. Feeling cold and distracted again, but it feels more like my normal levels of cold and distracted.

Early afternoon: The agitator wasn’t as bad today. About to start the cayenne… also less offensive. Huh.

Late afternoon: Mood is unmotivated, blah. Physically a little tired. Really looking forward to eating breakfast tomorrow, and I’m daydreaming about what I should make.

Evening: Finished #6 early, at 5:45. Got a little mood lift late in the afternoon, maybe from a walk? Still not very productive at work.

Day 3

Soooooooooooooo excited to eat. Made spinach and eggs.

In a fantastic mood today. Could it be the weather? It’s still cold and blustery out, but today is the turning day. The past 2 days I didn’t want to interact with anyone at work, felt bristly and irritated and sulky. Today everything is funny, I can’t keep my mouth shut in meetings, I’m singing stupid songs, etc.

Lessons learned: The lack of food forced me to examine my relationship with food, and I want to start cooking more, like I used to. I also want to try adding meat back in, starting with cow. That’s kind of a major realization. I didn’t feel the magical physical changes that the Cheeniuses did–and I was jealous of them for that–but the psychological effects were interesting.

Will I do it again? Maybe, but I’d probably sub in the beet juice for the agitator, or try the Light Rinse cleanse just to make the experience a bit more pleasant. I imagine the terrible mood I experienced on Day 2 would be lessened a bit next time knowing how happy and energetic I’d be feeling the next day.

Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely. It’s all about self-experimentation, and everyone’s mileage will vary.

HP in Australia #3: Perth City Farm

At the end of the free Yellow CAT bus line* just outside downtown Perth lies an urban oasis where once a polluted scrap metal yard stood: Perth City Farm. Their motto: “Working together to create greener cities and sustainable landscapes for the future.”

Perth City Farm

Perth City Farm, managed by the non-profit Men of the Trees, not only grows organic food in the city, but also hosts workshops, seminars, art galleries, and group events. Local volunteers and those seeking training or experience tend the gardens and cafe. The founder’s dream was to create “… a place in the city with a nursery, gardens, soup kitchens; a whole educational facility where young people could tend plants, meet each other, learn skills and find respect for themselves.”

perth-city-farm-men-of-the-trees perth-city-farm-inside

The Farm hosts a Saturday morning market featuring food and personal and household products from ethical and sustainable growers and producers, and has a popular onsite cafe serving simple breakfasty fare. I visited the cafe on a Monday afternoon, the first day they were open after a 3-week holiday, to find that they’d closed a bit early due to low traffic. It turned out the farm itself is closed on Mondays so I couldn’t observe the workers bustling around–which actually was nice in that I could stroll through the quiet gardens all alone. So even though I didn’t get to try any of the cafe’s food, the trip definitely was not a bust.

perth-city-farm-inside-seating perth-city-farm-inside-path

The Farm’s Facebook page is updated often with hours, events, and photos.

*CAT buses run four free loops within the city. Best part: most people, when exiting the bus, called out “thank you!” to the driver, who thanked them right back. It’s the little things, people!

Raleigh Farmers Market

Today we have a guest post from Nadia Cempré! Thanks, Nadia!

I have been dying to find an opening in my insane life to visit my sister Lamya in Raleigh–and this weekend when I finally made it happen, I could hardly sleep thinking about it for three very clear reasons:

  • I couldn’t wait to see my sister’s new condo.
  • I couldn’t wait to try out a Middle Eastern restaurant she’d been promising to take us to for good ol’ home-cooking.
  • The promise of the Raleigh Farmers Market in Summer time!

This last one is something I have been excited about for no less than 7 or 8 years, dating back to when my interest in the local food movement was first sparked. I distinctly remember watching the Travel Channel as they counted down the top 20 places for singles in their late 20s to meet others – and lo and behold in the top spot they name… the Raleigh Farmers Market.

I go to the Charlottesville City Farmers Market just about every Saturday morning during the season–it is my absolute favorite thing to do after my long marathon training runs, and the open and close of the Farmers Market season demarcate the start and end of a significant chapter in my life annually. I come alive when it’s announced in April, and retreat into a period of melancholy and reflection when it converts to a Holiday Market in November.

So you can imagine my surprise, as we took our time getting ready yesterday morning that the Raleigh Farmers Market is open year round, all day long, seven days a week!

Raleigh Farmers Market

The local food movement took its time inching its way out East from the West coast of the United States– but as it did, North Carolina and its Research Triangle area became leaders in the endeavor. Proximity to the heart of Southern farmland, combined with research, education, and support from the three surrounding universities conspired to produce a community hungry to support their families with local and responsible meats and produce.

The market is sponsored and supported by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, so it is very much a state-funded endeavor, and the state also sponsors a North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council:

It is the purpose of the North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council to contribute to building a local food economy, thereby benefiting North Carolina by creating jobs, stimulating statewide economic development, circulating money from local food sales within local communities, preserving open space, decreasing the use of fossil fuel and thus reducing carbon emissions, preserving and protecting the natural environment, increasing consumer access to fresh and nutritious foods, and providing greater food security for all North Carolinians.

For the past few years, the Charlottesville City Government has struggled with decisions regarding finding a permanent space for our quaint group of vendors and farmers. The Raleigh Farmers Market venue is the dream of every vendor–and every mom with a stroller in the middle of August. When we arrived we walked into one of the two massive permanent shelters that had constant fans blowing in every direction, and a permanent roof protecting from what can be a sweltering North Carolina sun.

As a matter of fact, they had Big Ass Fans.

Big Ass Fans

Right away, it was clear that this, just like in Virginia, was the month of the peach! They were everywhere! Plump, and beckoning, and promising of sweetness. The vendors were practically begging us to try samples, and even though we could hardly breathe from the local brunch offerings we’d just had, we couldn’t resist the peach slices.


Speaking of my brunch, I have been pleasantly surprised by all the local, responsibly-raised offerings in restaurants and have had no trouble finding poultry and meat options in Raleigh I can feel happy about. Here was the brunch I speak of, consisting of local eggs on Carolina crab cakes with seasonal fruit salad:

Raleigh Brunch

My youngest sister Mona had grand plans to make her famous Eggplant Lasagna for Lamya so the main purpose of the visit was to purchase the freshest ingredients for that. Eggplants were everywhere, and debates regarding the right size, color, and variety were intense.

Raleigh Eggplants

In the end however, fresh and local garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, and basil were all successfully agreed upon and taken home for the lasagna. The tomatoes were glorious and it was all I could do to stop myself from grabbing a pint of the cherry ones and munching right there and then!


The market was set up in an impressively organized fashion, and I quickly learned that produce was designated to either the right or the left of the shelter. One side was for vendors exclusively selling self-grown and farmed produce and plants. The other side was designated for items that might be re-sale. Everything under that first roof had to be North Carolina-produced. Interestingly, they didn’t define ‘local’ by radius, but rather by state. The rules meant that if it came from 4 hours away in North Carolina, you could sell it. However, if it came from 3 hours away in Virginia you could not. That was a designation of ‘local’ I hadn’t heard before but it made complete sense since the entire thing was an endeavor of the state.

The variety was staggering! Having done a fair amount of travelling I thought I had pretty much come across anything we can grow in America, but I found a delectable item called a canary melon that I had never seen before! It was delicious!

Canary melons Canary melon

The shelter was divided into three sections: produce, prepared and baked foods, and garden. Next on our agenda was to purchase three new indoor potted plants for my sister’s condo. I have never had a green thumb, and never been one to care about flowers, but it was hard not to get mushy at all the beautiful and unique floral and plant arrangements.

These plants in particular caught my eye; their bright purple veins appealed to the biologist in me, and my sister took home a darker variety.

Raleigh plants

Raleigh plants

Three plants later, we made our way to the most dangerous area, the prepared and baked goods section. Good thing we were so full already! I was able to control myself when it came to my weakness: fresh baked salt pretzels! But Lamya didn’t win her battle and walked away with a gorgeous loaf of ciabatta (for garlic bread with the lasagna!)

Raleigh pretzels

I learned that the huge sheltered building next door was a further expansion of this market. That building was where farmers from all over the country could share their goods. It was not limited to North Carolina produce, and there you could find Florida oranges, and Virginia eggs! Truly a one-stop-shop experience!

My favorite part of the Raleigh Farmers Market were all the little helpful signs that seemed to be a trend amongst vendors. Everywhere you looked, there were notes telling you how to cook, tend, water, and care for the various offerings.

Raleigh market signs

Raleigh market signs

The vendors were cheerful, friendly, and happy to be there, and the sense of safety and community abounded. I can’t wait to come visit again, and this time I’m bringing massive coolers so I can take things home to Virginia!

Locavore surprises in Saxapahaw, NC

On a recent visit to Burlington, NC, home of the world’s cutest nephew, HP was happily surprised to find a locavore haven in nearby Saxapahaw. The Saxapahaw General Store carries local and organic produce and groceries, local beverages and baked goods, and serves up a pretty extensive menu of breakfast, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and more using local ingredients. We had a tasty lunch of sandwiches and salads and picked up a few heirloom tomatoes for tomato sandwiches for breakfast the next day. [Brookville Restaurant in Charlottesville is the master: toasted white bread, Duke’s mayo, and sliced fresh, local, heirloom tomatoes. So simple, so unbelievably good.]

Saxapahaw General Store

The Saxapahaw General Store has a mission I am happy to support:

They decided to become stewards of local foods, good wine and beer, nutritious snacks, and eco-conscious dry goods.

We stopped by sister pub The Eddy for a post-lunch local beer. The Eddy’s interior of brick, wood, and antiques harkens back to the building’s former life as a mill. I didn’t realize how impressively environmental the refurbishment of the space was until reading their website:

To honor the space outside the mill, we have equipped the whole building with geothermal wells for heating and cooling  of the spaces.  The kitchen’s water is heated with solar electricity, and much of its daytime lighting comes in naturally from a clerestory constructed in the center portion of its roof.  A series of ramps and stairs allows full access to the spaces without the use of an elevator.  New double paned windows in the fashion of the original windows add efficiency of heating and cooling.

The Eddy serves local, seasonal pub food, maintains a busy live music schedule, and has a lovely patio and event spaces.

If you should happen to find yourself near Saxapahaw, you should check out these two locavore havens. Cheers!

Fruit Grafting and Propagation Class

Guest post from Cheenius; also posted on the Transition Charlottesville blog.

You have to love a class where one of the first questions the instructor poses is: “Does anyone here faint at the sight of their own blood?” Good stuff. Luckily, Cheenius is known for being fearless and intrepid.

About a dozen current and wannabe orchardists met for a one day workshop led by Alexis Zeigler of Living Energy Farm. Alexis has hundreds of fruit trees at various properties, and this self-taught expert provided a wealth of information as well as hands-on experience. He pointed out that we have all been duped by a culture of deception when it comes to fruit, thinking that the shiny apples and plump peaches of the grocery store are desirable. In reality, those fruits have been sprayed with fungicides and pesticides up to 14 times during their growth. Meanwhile, because industrial farming only serves up a relatively small number of fruits varieties, we don’t realize that fruits like the paw paw, persimmon, and muscadine are much better suited for the mid-Atlantic and are incredibly disease and insect resistance. In some cases, these little-known fruits also offer more vitamins and even protein than we get from the ubiquitous red delicious apple. I was definitely inspired to think about my fruit tree choices in a completely different way.

Alexis Zeigler

After learning the characteristics and hardiness of some of the main fruit and nut tree families, we moved on to propagation. We covered seed and root cuttings, and then spent the rest of our time learning to graft. Turns out, once you know which parts to line up, it wasn’t that hard, but it was invaluable to have Alexis there — definitely not the kind of thing you can learn from a book. Along with knowledge, we all left with some actual grafts that we should be able to plant in 4-8 weeks. What did I end up with? Pretty excited about some blight resistant pears, hardy almonds, and some paw paw seeds that I’ve already put into pots. Planning to add kiwi and persimmon to my yard as soon as I can figure out a good location. Great class!

Grafted Plants

Thanks, Cheenius! Can’t wait to hear how your new plants turn out!

Brussels sprouts love (?!)

brussels sprouts


Quote of the Day

Are Brussels sprouts different here? — Mr. HP


I was eating amazing mixed veggie dish #2 in Halifax. First amazing dish was veggie curry at the Monkey. Second amazing dish was veggie curry at Jane’s on the Common. Both dishes included Brussels sprouts, which Mr. HP and I usually avoid; however, these sprouts were amazing–possibly the best part of each dish. I raved at the Halifax Brussels sprouts phenomenon while eating the sprouts at Jane’s, and Mr. HP begrudgingly had a taste, which prompted the Quote of the Day.


  1. If you live in Halifax, eat your Brussels sprouts!
  2. If you, like me, think you’re not a Brussels sprouts person, give them another shot! Try roasting them for a simple, tasty intro to the world of enjoying this strange little cabbage.

Brooklyn Commune

Tired of dealing with Christmas lists and wrappings (bah humbug), I took a lunch break and turned on Chopped. One of the contestants on this episode is the co-owner and executive chef of Brooklyn Commune, Chris Scott. My ears perked up as Chef Chris described what his restaurant/market/catering operation is all about: connecting people with local, sustainable food. Clips of the chef working in an urban garden were shown while he talked about how he’d put the $10,000 prize money back into the local food scene. How could I not root for Chef Chris?

Spoiler alert: he didn’t win. But I googled around to learn more about his enterprise, and found some impressive stuff about Brooklyn Commune and about local produce in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Commune’s mission is “to help develop a personal connection between people and the food they eat.” They support local farms, CSAs, bakers, cheesemakers, and other local businesses in their quest to spread the gospel of sustainability, teach classes, and they even have plans to host field trips. (Maybe they already do, it’s an old article!) They serve as a pickup point for a couple CSAs, and right now they’re hosting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree sale. Love it! The activity on their Facebook page is a good illustration of their interest in their local community, and their importance to their neighborhood.

I was also interested to read about Prospect Farm in Brooklyn, an urban farm on a formerly vacant lot.  Their objectives are “diversity in food production and membership… [and] creating healthy soil through our community composting project and farm without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.” Members and Friends can purchase food from the farm: members commit 52 hours of work and $25 per year, and get a 50% discount on farm food; Friends donate $100 a year for the ability to purchase farm food at regular prices.

Brooklynites are lucky to have resources like Brooklyn Commune and Prospect Farm providing local products. Please try to do business with local food sources like these! We’re lucky to have citizens among us who care enough to make livelihoods out of producing local foods, and the best way to pay them back is to patronize the establishments they support.

Another day…

…another scary article about foods that are poisoning you. Prevention Magazine asked seven food safety experts to name a food they avoid, and while most answers were nothing shocking, a couple made me think, namely the potatoes and apples.

I try to buy local and organic whenever I can, but if I see a display of local potatoes or apples next to organic, non-local versions, I’ll generally choose from the local pile, even without the organic label. I guess I shouldn’t assume that local produce is organic, and that local always trumps non-local/organic. As if I needed my produce shopping to be more complicated.

I liked the article’s closing, a great refute to the “organic is too expensive” argument:

If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. “I would rather see the trade-off being that I don’t buy that expensive electronic gadget,” he says. “Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.”

The list of foods to avoid:

  1. Canned tomatoes
  2. Corn-fed beef (yay Joel Salatin!)
  3. Microwave popcorn
  4. Non-organic potatoes
  5. Farmed salmon
  6. Milk produced with artificial hormones
  7. Conventional apples