Monday, November 9, 2009

What is Creamed Honey?

Over the last few days I’ve enjoyed Byrd Mill Lemon-Blueberry Scones with Monastery Creamed Lemon Honey and Byrd Mill Raspberry Pancakes with Monastery Creamed Almond Honey.

What is creamed honey? Creamed honey is not whipped honey. There shouldn’t be any air in your creamed honey. Creamed honey is controlled granulation of honey, which results in extremely small sugar crystals. The smaller the crystals the better the creamed honey. A good creamed honey should be smooth, not grainy, like velvet on the tongue. Also known as whipped honey, honey butter, or spun honey, it is simply finely crystallized honey that spreads like butter at ordinary room temperature, and unlike liquid honey, it doesn’t drip. All honey will eventually crystallize, especially if refrigerated. The crystals are typically coarse resulting in a gritty texture that is not especially pleasing to the palette and is also not easily spread. Many people are alarmed when they see liquid honey on their shelf do this and assume that the honey has “gone bad”. Gently warming the honey will restore its liquid state… Just think of the three states of water (ice, liquid, and steam...all different forms of water). And so it is with crystallized honey… it’s still honey. Fortunately, it is possible to control the crystallization of honey so as to produce a creamy texture that is easily spreadable and incredibly delicious. This process involves the introduction of finely grained honey “starter crystals” and control of the temperature. There are many nuances to the process that are closely guarded secrets; however, in the end, creamed honey is merely a very finely crystallized pure honey that spreads like creamy butter. That's the science behind creamed honey that you will immediately forget about when you taste some on a hot, buttered biscuit!

We get the creamed honey we sell from Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, VA is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Shenandoah River. Established in 1950, the Abbey is home to Trappist Monks. Members of the monastery live separated from day to day society in order to spend their days focusing on meditation, prayer and service. Contrary to popular belief, the monks do not take a vow of silence. They do, however, make a vow of personal poverty and live with limited possessions in a dormitory like setting. Though they live separately, they are not totally isolated from the community as guests are welcomed to visit the monastery for quiet reflection in the chapel any time from 3:15AM to 8:00PM or to attend any of the services. Trappist monks believe strongly in “living from the work of their hands”. Monks at the Holy Cross Abbey support themselves through the sale of creamed honey, fruitcake made from an old fashioned recipe, as well as fraters (fruit cake slices dipped in dark chocolate).

We offer six flavors of creamed honey, natural, cinnamon, brandy, almond, raspberry, and lemon, in assortments, gift boxes, gable boxes with just creamed honey or with mixtures of preserves, apple butter and creamed honey. We have gift baskets with just creamed honey, ones with a mixture of preserves and with are other fine Virginia products. Substitute Monastery Creamed Honey in any recipe calling for honey and you’ll wonder if it’s what might be served in "The Land of Milk and Honey".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Visit to the Virginia Diner

This week the Virginia Diner salted, unsalted, chocolate covered an butter toasted Virginia peanuts dressed up in their holiday labels are arriving at The Virginia Marketplace.

You may not realize that the Virginia Diner really is an 80-year old family owned and operated diner and peanut business located in Wakefield, Virginia known for its home style cooking served up with plenty of Southern hospitality. In those days the little diner was a refurbished Sussex, Surry, and Southampton Railroad car. Being in the heart of peanut country, it wasn’t long before they were cooking peanuts and serving them in the Diner as their country version of “after dinner mints.” Today the Virginia Diner has been replicated and the old railroad car has become a legend, but its quaint atmosphere has been faithfully preserved and still reflects throughout the restaurant. Today, people all over the United States buy and enjoy many varieties of Virginia Diner peanuts and many send them to friends, colleagues, and family as appreciated gifts.

Last year I went to the Dismal Swamp canoeing and camping. On the way home I stopped to eat a buffet lunch at the Virginia Diner. They didn’t have their famous Peanut Pie on the buffet but I had to order it anyway. It certainly was delicious! Here’s a link to the Virginia Diner Peanut Pie recipe on our website. Virginia Diner is known to many as “The Peanut Capital of the World TM” and the locals call it “A Legend in a Nutshell TM”.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hot Cocoa and Gingerbread, a Perfect Pair

When the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to fall it’s time to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa around a fireplace, or even better, around a fire outdoors. I also love to sip hot cocoa after I come in on a cool day. It always tastes especially delicious when the snow is falling.

When I drink my first cup of hot cocoa I think about how it is almost time to make gingerbread cookies to eat and to decorate the Christmas tree. I always get my cocoa and gingerbread cookie mix form The Virginia Marketplace. We sell award winning Steamer Hot Cocoa, an indulgent and rich combination of quality ingredients. The can of Traditional Hot Cocoa comes with an awesome old-fashioned picture of a horse and carriage. The can of White Chocolate Flavor comes with a gorgeous picture of ice skaters on a frozen pond. Woodpecker Farm Gingerbread Cookie mix comes from all natural, old Virginia family recipes. The mix can be used to make ornaments and gingerbread houses as well as cookies.

We sell the Steamer Cocoa Mixes and Gingerbread Cookie Mix by themselves and in gift boxes and gift baskets. I know that you or your gift recipient will enjoy the gingerbread mix and hot cocoa as much as we do. We found some perfect Snowman mugs to pair with our Hot Cocoa mixes, the perfect gift to send to your hot cocoa lover or yourself.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When I Met Rowena

When I went to the Fancy Food Show in New York I found out about Rowena’s. She makes gourmet cakes, curds, jams, and sauces out of Norfolk, VA. She offered us her signature Carrot Jam. We couldn't help but think how weird and hoped we could swallow it. To our surprise it was unusually satisfying, delicious and addictive. People tend to be skeptical that jam made from a vegetable can be any good, but its cinnamon clove taste wins them over. This jam has been the surprise best-seller at Rowena’s for 25 years. She also had us try some sugar free pound cake but didn’t tell us it was sugar free until afterward. It was so good we never would have known. Rowena’s cakes are not just wonderful to taste; they are shipped in a unique "spotted" shipping box and make welcome gifts for many occasions. The excitement begins the moment the beautifully decorated box arrives. Rowena feels she creates more than cakes; she creates happiness. We’ve been excited to sell Rowena’s gourmet offerings since we met her.

Rowena makes almond, lemon, chocolate, chocolate mint, and cappuccino pound cakes with and without curds. She also makes a Rose Shaped Cake, a Cranberry Torte and a selection of different Baby Bundt Cakes. She makes lemon, raspberry, and key lime curds, Heavenly Curry, Spicy Peanut Sauce and Devilish Mustard Sauce, and Peach Orange Clove Jam, Cranberry Nut Conserve and of course, Carrot Jam. She also creates sugar free almond, lemon and chocolate pound cakes and sugar free lemon and raspberry curds.

Here is some information about Rowena. Three backyard fruit trees and almond pound cake sparked what is today a thriving gourmet food business for Rowena Fullinwider, founder and president of Rowena’s, Inc, in Norfolk, Virginia. Fullinwider often baked for family, friends and church bake sales. People liked what she made and wanted to buy them. A friend offered to carry things in her store. After that, things just started to grow. She started with her almond pound cake, some jams and the lemon curd. As word spread about the “cake lady”, requests for Rowena’s specialty foods exceeded the capabilities of her kitchen. Rowena opened her gourmet manufacturing facility in May of 1983 and in 23 years, her facility has grown to 18 employees, a retail store, staff offices, call center, tearoom, two spacious kitchens and two warehouses. The Almond Pound Cake is to this day her biggest selling item.

Rowena and her company have won numerous awards over the years, including the coveted Blue Chip Enterprise Award in 1994 and the Women Business Advocate Award for Virginia and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Small Business Administration in 2004.

Rowena not only runs her successful business, but she also serves or has served on several boards (including president of the local National Association of Women Business Owners in 1996-97), mentors other women business owners, donates tons of time and product to charities, and gives tours of Rowena's to at-risk children. She lobbied Congress to help small business receive an exemption from the National Labeling and Education Act of 1990, served as chairman of the Governor's Small Business Advisory Board for six years, and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1995, serving as the co-chair for the Regulation and Paperwork Reduction committee.
Rowena’s has been featured in national publications such as Lady’s Home Journal, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Taste of Home and Southern Living, and has appeared on Food Finds on the Food Network’s Food Finds, QVC, The 700 Club and The Today Show. Rowena’s is the first US small gourmet business to present at the Moscow World Food Fair.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer Seafood Recipes

I was at Harris Teeter this summer and they had diver bay scallops and shrimp from Virginia on sale so I thought I would make some new recipes with Blue Crab Bay Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. I made Scallops Italian and Bloody Mary Shrimp and Pasta. They have become two of my favorite seafood dishes.

What is Blue Crab Bay STING RAY Spicy Bloody Mary Mixer? It is a thick and rich blend of clam and tomato juices spiced with Blue Crab Bay's Chesapeake Bay Style Seafood Seasoning and freshly grated horseradish. Great alone, as a mixer, or a cooking sauce. A true combination of the flavors of the Chesapeake region! The Virginia Marketplace sells the 25 fl. oz. bottles, which has a fishnet-imprinted seal. We also have it in many gift baskets.

Here are the recipes:
1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined,3 cloves garlic, crushed1/4 cup olive oil,1 lb. fettuccine or other pasta,1-1/2 cups Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer,2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley, and Parmesan cheese.
Cook pasta according to directions, drain and keep warm. Sauté shrimp with garlic in olive oil until the flesh is opaque, usually 3-5 minutes. Add to pasta and toss with Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and grated Parmesan. Serve with a fresh garden salad and bread. Have a little extra Sting Ray Mixer in a small creamer available for guests who enjoy extra zing!

¼ cup olive oil,1 onion, diced,1 green pepper, diced1 garlic clove, minced1 can tomatoes (16 oz), chopped and drained,3-4 Tbs. Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer,1 lb. Bay scallops,1 Tbs. butter,¼ cup dry white wine,1 Tbs. lemon juice, and Italian Bread Crumbs. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes and Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile sauté scallops for 2-3 minutes in butter. Add wine and lemon juice and simmer 5 minutes. Combine all ingredients in lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle Breadcrumbs on top and bake 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. For variation: Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese or grated parmesan. I used parmesan and served it with Jasmine rice.

Here is some additional information about Blue Crab Bay:
In 1985, Blue Crab Bay founder Pamela Barefoot had an inspired vision of what a business could be. From her seaside farmhouse kitchen she imagined a company that would put the tastes of the Chesapeake region on the map, be a protector of the environment and provide stimulating and fun employment for citizens of her rural community. Surrounding herself with foods from the Chesapeake, a functioning stove, a list of contacts and boatloads of imagination and determination, Barefoot got to work. Sales exploded, awards rained plentiful, and the number of employees mounted. Barefoot began distribution of other products, including foods and gift items.Her first brand, Blue Crab Bay Co., featured original products like seasonings for crab dip and gift packs wrapped in weathered fishnet with seashells. In the late 1980's, on the strength of the addictive "Clam Dip Blend", the customer base escalated geographically and her small company began exhibiting at national trade shows. Blue Crab Bay offers an extensive product line of specialty foods and gifts, internationally recognized for their signature blue labeling, handsome packaging and unrivaled taste. The handsome packaging even gained the attention of Hollywood set directors. Kitchen cabinets were stocked full in an opening shot of Julia Roberts' film "Sleeping with the Enemy."

When she found her company in financial trouble, Barefoot did not give up. She went into her kitchen and developed her dream product. She spent the early months of 1994 mixing tomato paste, clam juice, horseradish and seafood spices to create Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Their best selling Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer won top honors in Outstanding Beverage a prestigious award competition at the International Fancy Food Show in New York. Blue Crab Bay Co. has been featured in many national publications, including INC., Coastal Living and Nation's Business. The company was selected as a 1998 Blue Chip Enterprise and in 1999 Barefoot was honored as the Small Business Administration's Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Virginia. In 2003, she received the SBA's Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award in Washington, DC.

In the shadows of all this success, Blue Crab Bay Co.'s corporate culture continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment and its rural Eastern Shore community. Each year, employees energetically plan and execute charity events. Since 1998, the Blue Crabbers Relay for Life Team has raised over $50,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. The company supports various organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, The Nature Conservancy, and the United Way of United Way of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

We also sell Blue Crab Bay’s delicious seafood soups and seafood dip kits. These products can all be found in gift boxes and gift baskets. I’ll talk about these products in other blogs.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Great Weather Year for Virginia Apples

The size and colors of the apples grown in Virginia are an indication that summer has ended and fall is here. Orchards in Central Virginia began picking apples in late July and early August and will continue to have apples until November. A lack of hail and the right amount of rain has made this year’s apple crop more plentiful than last year’s. Apples are Virginia’s eighth largest agricultural crop.

One of the big contributing factors of the good quality and size of the apples of this year’s crop was a wet spring followed by a dry spell in August. The dry spell made early apples sweet, red apples redder than ever and the golden apples are more golden than ever.

A hurricane or a premature freeze could change all that and harm the fruit. If Hurricane Ike had taken a turn and worked its way up the East Coast earlier this month, local apple trees could have been in trouble. Hurricanes with 80 mph winds could blow apples off a tree and uproot it.

At the Virginia Marketplace we love apples and have chosen to sell these unique products that are made from Virginia apples: La Provencale Cellars Apple Grilling Glaze and Le Mousseux Sparkling Apple Cider as well as Graves Mountain Apple Butter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Peanut Butter is Good For You!

This recent article in USA Weekend inpired this blog.
Good news about peanut butter: You might want to think twice before putting down that spoonful of peanut butter. It turns out the lunchtime staple is good for you. Government guidelines recommend limiting daily fat consumption to between 20% and 35% of calories, and saturated fats should be less than 10%, according to the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. So moderation is key when eating foods high in calories such as peanut butter, says Harvard nutritionist Walter C. Willett. One serving (about 2 tablespoons) of regular creamy peanut butter has 3.3 grams of saturated fat (chunky style has 2.6 grams), but it also contains nutrients such as potassium and niacin. And one serving contains 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, which can lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. But if you are watching your blood pressure, look for unsalted versions with only 5 mg of sodium per serving.

Here are some interesting facts about peanuts and peanut butter:
Did you know that Americans eat an average of about 6 pounds of peanuts per person, per year, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Almost half of the U.S. peanut crop is used to make peanut butter. It takes nearly 850 peanuts to make a jar of peanut butter. Peanut butter must be at least 90 percent peanuts with no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives to officially be labeled peanut butter.

Who invented peanut butter? Some speculate that peanut butter was first introduced in the United States in 1890, when a St. Louis physician invented peanut butter to provide his patients with an easy-to-digest, high protein food. Others still believe it to be the ‘father of the peanut industry’, George Washington Carver who invented more than 300 uses for peanuts.

Dates of importance:
National Peanut Butter Day is January 22nd.
National Peanut Month is March.
National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is April 2nd.
Sept 13 was National Peanut Day!

The Virginia Marketplace has chosen The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Peanut Butter to sell. Here is what they say about it: “A favorite for years, our all natural Virginia Peanut Butter has become famous. Our peanut butter is just that - peanuts, and maybe a pinch of salt. No added sugars.” It is available in smooth, salt free smooth, crunchy, or a sampler of all three. We also sell peanut straws, peanut butter pie, peanut butter brownie pie, peanut butter cheesecake truffles and peanut butter petit fours.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn is For Apples

Since today is the first day of autumn I'm thinking about two of our great apple products from La Provencale Cellars.

We found out about La Provencale Cellars at a wine festival. It was a very hot day. We had been tasting wine and came upon this sparkling apple cider company. What a refreshing delight. You may have had sparkling apple cider in the past and say all cider is the same. That is not true. This sparkling apple cider is a blend of seven different apple varieties to create an elegant, dry, sophisticated cider reminiscent of those in western France. The blend includes Granny Smith for crisp freshness, Macintosh for its distinctive apple aromatic and taste components, Jonathan for the cinnamon and nutmeg overtones, Fuji for its juicy sweetness, along with others to round out the blend. Carbonation is the final addition to create a fresh fruity beverage that is at home in a champagne flute on its own or with dinner. The sparking cider was named Le Mousseux, French for the bubbles or the effervescence, and became an instant hit as an alternative beverage to serve in a wine glass or flute with dinner. Sparkling apple cider is also perfect for family occasions, for kids or those wanting a non-alcoholic beverage choice. The Virginia Marketplace sell Le Mousseux by itself and in gift baskets. (UPDATE: Le Mousseux is no longer produced)

We have also enjoyed their Apple Grilling Glaze as well on pork and chicken. It is appleious. The Apple Grilling Glaze is not too sweet or too vinegarized. There are so many ways they recommend using it. It is perfect as a plate dressing in a simply prepared dinner, such as a covering for sautéed chicken breast. Youngsters can top their chicken nuggets with Grilling Glaze. You can mix it with breadcrumbs and whole cranberries for a stuffing or paint a fresh ham before baking. It makes baby back ribs delicious and is superb on a pork sandwich. They recommend adding it to meat on the grill during the last few minutes (almost no fat content in the Glaze - you don't want scorching), or painting it on a casserole creation at the beginning of baking. It is also a great bread spread for a meat sandwich. The Virginia Marketplace sells apple grilling glaze by itself and in gift baskets.

Here is some information on La Provencale Cellars..
Tom Rodriguez was convinced that Virginia apples could produce sparkling apple ciders as fruity and complex as the ones he enjoyed in Brittany and Normandy. After retirement from an international champagne, wine and spirits house, he designed a business to market the effervescent apple cider he remembered. During twenty years of corporate division management and marketing, he traveled regularly throughout the middle Atlantic region tracing many miles through the apple orchards of northwestern Virginia. His background expertise in champagne and sparkling wine led him to consider high acid level of eastern apple production - the same level of acidity being one of the factors that make good sparkling wines. His proprietary cuvee of several orchard varietals was infused with bubbles to create Le Mousseux, a gourmet sparkling apple cider - a non-alcoholic festive favorite.Apple spreads, based on memories of his grandmother's cooking were a natural extension of the product line. His West Virginia grandmother's handwritten recipes and notes in the margin of her cookbook were the source of his fruit combinations. The huge cook pots over an outside fire are gone, but the home-cooked flavors are wonderful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Virginia is for Apple Lovers!

You may know Virginia is known for its peanuts but we are also known for our apples. The Virginia Marketplace has a variety of apple products like apple butter, apple grilling glaze and Sparkling Apple Cider. This blog will be about apples and apple butter. There will be more about grilling glaze and cider in another blog.

There are many apple festivals in Virginia in October. Carter Mountain’s Apple Harvest Festival is October 3 and 4 and October 10 and 11. Join Carter’s Mountain for music, crafts, food, hayrides, apple butter, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie, and all things apple! Graves Mountain’s Apple Festival is October 10-11 and October 17-18. Enjoy fun filled days complete with good food and entertainment including bluegrass music, cloggers, arts and crafts, hayrides and horseback rides. Experience the days of yesteryear watching apple butter being cooked in kettles over an open fire. Orchards are open for apple picking or you may select your own from the apple bins. You can get Graves Mountain’s delicious preserves, apple butter and green pepper jelly at The Virginia Marketplace. Don’t miss trying their incredibly creamy and perfectly spiced apple butter. We enjoy using Graves Mountain apple butter on pancakes and French toast. Their Orange Marmalade with pieces of oranges and lemons tastes like “sunshine in a jar” on a croissant.

History of Apple Butter -Apple butter was a popular way of using apples in colonial America and well into the 19th century. Making apple butter was a family event and prepared in large kettles. Family members took turns using paddles to stir the apple butter while it cooked. Apple Butter is created by slow-cooking apples until the sugar caramelizes and the apples take on the consistenc of butter. There is no dairy or butter involved in the product; the term “butter” refers nly to the thick, soft consistency, and apple butter’s use as a spread for breads. Typically seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and other spices, apple butter may be spread on buttered toast, used as a side dish, an ingredient in baked goods, or as a condiment.

Here is an interesting story about apple butter that I found. Traditionally, the preparation of apple butter was a weekend long community event. It all started early in the morning when the men would harvest several bushels of apples. The boys would gather firewood to heat copper kettles. The mothers peeled and sliced the apples. They used knives not peelers. The mothers were secretly checking out the letters made by the peels to see who they should have actually married. Then the cut apples were thrown into the heated copper kettles while the girls took turns stirring with large wooden paddles and gossiping. It was important that the apples be stirred constantly or else they would burn and the whole town would take the girl in charge and put her in a stock and throw cream pies at her face. The women would then spice the mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Since making the apple butter required the apples to be stewed all day, the aroma filled the town air with sweet incense comforting the souls. When the sky was overcome by the colors of the setting sun, the apple butter was done and all the men got off their hammocks to come down to the copper pot for the first taste. In October, many “historic” towns around the U.S. have apple butter festivals where they roll out the copper kettles and throw a party. Come to Carter’s Mountain or Graves Mountain Apple Harvest festivals to enjoy one of these apple festivals.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jellystone Park, oops, I meant Shenandoah Park

I had my first bear sighting in a long time outside the Shenandoah Park. Over Labor Day on the way into the Swift Run Gap entrance of the Shenandoah Park we saw a bear in a tree. It was thrashing in the tree eating wild grapes. It was so close and seemed so tame that it made us think we were looking at a mechanical bear. It even parted the tree limbs to look at us. It was as if it was playing peek a boo. It started a bear traffic jam and people were jumping out of their cars to get as close as they could to the bear. When we moved up to pay we told the ranger there was a bear in the tree. She didn’t believe us at first. We think she either thought we were joking with her or that we asked if we would see a bear in the park. She looked at us like we had some nerve and said, “What do you people think this is, Jellystone Park?” Once we got her to understand there really was a bear, her expression changed to panic. She thanked us and went off to deal with the people by the tree. She probably had to remind everyone that even though the bear seemed tame, this was a wild bear and they needed to get back in their cars before someone got hurt. For a short moment in time, the Shenandoah Park became Jellystone Park.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chillin' at The Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival

Microbrew beers are becoming big in Central Virginia. First the wineries came, then the Monticello Wine Trail. Then the breweries came and now we have the Brew Ridge Beer Trail. The Charlottesville-area beer trail is believed to be the first trail in Virginia that focuses primarily on locally brewed beer.

In Nelson County there recently was the first Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival at The Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. The beer and music festival was held on Aug. 22 from 12-8. The breweries in attendance were Starr Hill Brewery, South Street Brewery, Blue Mountain Brewery, and Devil’s Backbone Brewery. There was also Hard Cider from Albemarle CiderWorks. There were many bands: Earl Knox, William Walter & Tucker Rogers, Robbing Mary, Jesse Harper, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Sons of Bill. It rained, no pored most of the day. It was chilly because of the rain like it has been so many weekends this spring and summer. Many people stood out in the rain with their coats and umbrellas and listened to the music when the rain was light enough to be able to hear it. Others huddled under the beer tent and kept drinking or hung out in the restaurant or in the covered entrance to the restaurant rocking in the rocking chairs straining to hear the music. When it was raining lighter the kids ignored the rain and played with their hula-hoops. It was as if they were chanting away the rain. The bands played on even when no one could hear them. We all cheered when the sun came out and the day warmed up. The crowd grew and the day went by fast. It was a great day despite the rain. Hopefully we can enjoy the sun more next year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Visit to The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg

On the way to Virginia Beach there was a traffic accident so we decided to get off I64. We stopped at The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg. I always love to go there and sample everything, especially new products. I sure have a sweet tooth. I enjoyed the chocolate peanuts and chocolate covered peanut brittle and chocolate covered almonds as well as the Peanut Squares. The Sweet Georgia Pecans and Chocolate Cashews are to die for.

We also fell in love with the Crab Town Nuts and had to get some to take with us to the beach. They have Chesapeake Bay seasoning on them. Chesapeake Bay seasoning has been an important part of going to the beach since I was a child. My dad’s famous shrimp and beer dish has it in it. Saturday’s dinner at the beach was always shrimp, with fresh corn in season (canned when not) and Jasmine rice. We don’t go down to the beach as often now, but we still have our favorite Chesapeake Bay shrimp dish when we do. The Virginia Marketplace is going to feature Crab Town Nuts in some of our gift baskets and peanut assortments. Soon you will find it in our Crab Lover’s Ocean Bounty gift basket, as well as a Peanut Lover’s red, white and blue picnic basket, and in assortments with New Orleans and Hot! Southern, and another with Salted Peanuts and Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle.

Here is some information about The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg: Located in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg is The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, the place where our own "founding fathers" began. It was in that tiny shop where their small batch, hand-cooked roasting techniques were developed and perfected. Although there have been many changes since The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg first opened its doors, what hasn't changed is that they still achieve their legendary flavor and crunchiness as a result of time honored cooking practices. They begin with only premium quality, super extra large Virginia peanuts, hand selected for their size. These peanuts are first water blanched, which gives them their fresh and unique crunchiness, and then small batch roasted in 100% peanut oil under the direct supervision of their Roastmaster. The Virginia Marketplace offers a vast variety of Virginia Peanuts, Specialty Nuts, and Gift Baskets and Gift Sets from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg. We also feature The Peanut Shop peanuts in our Virginia Marketplace Gift Baskets.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ode to Our Sauces

Tonight, I opened a jar of our 'appleicious' La Provencale Apple Grilling Glaze and used it to cook chicken. I brushed the chicken with olive oil, put it on the grill and in the last few minutes added the apple grilling glaze (so it wouldn’t burn - almost no fat in the glaze). Be sure to have some more for your plate to dunk the chicken in.

The Apple Grilling Glaze is a refreshing condiment, not too sweet and not too vinegarized. Even kids will love it with their chicken nuggets as an alternative to ketchup. It is also delicious with pork, poultry, lamb, venison, or add to duckling or salmon for great flavoring. It has a totally unique taste unlike any other Barbeque Sauce.

The Virginia Marketplace offers several traditional and nontraditional Sauces. The ever-favorite original “James River” barbeque sauce is unchanged since the 1950s. This is a wonderful all purpose sauce, especially as a condiment for pork.

Basse's Choice Virginia-Carolina Style BBQ Sauce & Marinade is made with a vinegar sauce and a bit of heat. It is perfect for pork and poultry.

Virginia Gentlemen award-winning sauces, with the traditional hunt scene labels, are anything-but-traditional when it comes to the taste sensation you'll experience. Flavored with Virginia Gentleman 90® Small Batch Bourbon, the perfect compliment to all your favorite pork recipes. We offer an assortment of one 12 oz. bottle each VG 90® Glaze & Sauces - Bourbon Maple, Bourbon Teriyaki and Bourbon Chipotle.
We offer three nontraditional sauces from Rowena’s. Heavenly Curry Sauce is an excellent sauce to sauté with. Superb on chicken or shrimp on the grill. Devilishly good out of the jar on broiled seafood, smoked meats, chicken or steamed vegetables. Spoon over cream cheese topped with chopped dried fruit and peanuts. Spicy Peanut Sauce adds a wonderful Thai flavor to a stir fry, hot or cold pasta, or chicken dishes. An outstanding dip for egg rolls. Mouthwatering marinade for pork or poultry. Devilish Mustard Sauce is terrific on hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs, and smoked fish! A great baste or chicken, pork, or shrimp. Also add a little zing to egg or potato salad, baked beans, meatloaf or deviled eggs.These are available in sets of three or try an assortment of all three.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our Delicious Fruit Preserves, Jelly, Apple Butter and Curds

We enjoy eating what we sell! Therefore, we can whole heartily recommend our products. At breakfast there are always several jars of Graves Mountain Preserves and Apple Butter to choose from. What a difficult choice!! We can’t eat them all at once. We sell Orange Marmalade, Apple Butter, Cherry, Seedless Red Raspberry, Blackberry, Strawberry and Peach Preserves, and Green Pepper Jelly from Graves Mountain. We also sell Peach Orange Clove Jam, Cranberry Nut Conserve, Carrot Jam, and Raspberry, Lemon and Key Lime Curds from Rowena’s.Here is some information about what a fruit butter, jelly, marmalade, jam, preserve and curd is and how we sell them in gift baskets, gift boxes, fruit gable boxes, alone, and in asssortments.

Marmalade is a fruit preserve usage made of citrus fruits. “Marmalade" mostly refers to a preserve derived from a citrus fruit, commonly oranges. The recipe includes sliced or chopped fruit peel simmered in fruit juice and water until soft; indeed marmalade is sometimes described as jams with fruit peel. Marmalade is often eaten on toast for breakfast. Marmalade can be made from lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges or any combination there of. We offer Graves Mountain Orange Marmalade in a set of 3 jars, in assortments with other jams and honey, in fruit gable gift boxes with assortments and in gourmet gift baskets of Virginia products. Graves Mountain Orange Marmalade is “sunshine in a jar” filled with chunks of oranges and lemons. It is especially delicious on a warmed croissant.

Fruit preserves or Jam refers to fruits or vegetables that have been prepared and canned for long term storage. The preparation of fruit preserves traditionally involves the use of pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used as well. There are various types of fruit preserves made globally, and they can be made from sweet or savory ingredients.We offer Graves Mountain Preserves singley in groups of three or in an assortment with other jams, creamd honey and apple butter, in fruit gable gift boxes with these asssortments, in gift boxes, and in gift baskets of fineVirginia foods. We also have baskets with just preserves or just preserves and creamed honey.We also offer Rowena’s Carrot Jam and Peach Clove Jam in sets of three or in an assortment with Cranberry Nut Conserve.

Jelly - A clear, cooked mixture of fruit juice, sugar, and sometimes, added pectin.We offer Green Pepper Jelly from Graves Mountain.

Conserve: A Conserve is generally a mixture of more than one fruit, often with added nuts and raisins that is cooked until it becomes thick. It is used as a spread for breads, pastries and meats, and in the latter use is closest to chutney. Other producers refer to a thickly stewed preserve as a conserve. Tomato conserves can be more savory.We offer Rowena’s Cranberry Conserve alone in a set of three or in a assortment with Peach Orange Clove Jam and Carrot Jam.

Fruit Butter: Fruit Butter, such as apple butter, is a fruit puree or pulp combined with sugar, lemon juice and spices, slowly cooked down to a smooth consistency. The “butter” refers to its spreadability. There is no actual butter in the product.We offer Graves Mountain Apple Butter, incredibly creamy and spiced perfectly, in a set of three, in assortments, in assortments in gift boxes, in fruit gable gift boxes, and in gift baskets of Virginia products.

Fruit Curd: Fruit curd is a creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter, generally flavored with citrus juice and zest. Lemon curd is the classic variety, but lime curd and blood orange curd can be found, as can other fruit curds such as raspberry and strawberry. A citrus curd is refreshingly tart, as opposed to more sugary jams and preserves. The butter creates a smoother and creamier texture than jam. Homemade lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam, and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts. We offer Rowena’s Raspberry, Lemon, And Key Lime Curd in sets of three or an assortment of one of each. Rowena’s Lemon and Raspberry Curds are available in a sugar free version.

Visit and try for yourself or send as a gift our truely special fruit preserves, creamy apple butter, green pepper jelly, and curds and check out our gift baskets, gift boxes, and fruit gable gift boxes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pick Your Own Pungo Blueberries

We have been enjoying lots of pick your own Pungo blueberries this month. Pungo is a rural community located just south of Sandbridge Beach where there are miles and miles of beautiful farmland. Pungo Blueberries are delicious for snacking, with yogurt, cereal, and in pancakes with, of course, our Graves Mountain Preserves. There are many other ways to enjoy them, in pies, cakes, muffins.... If you are around Virginia Beach mid July to Aug. don’t skip picking your own blueberries at Pungo Blueberries.

Blueberries especially thrive in New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina, Washington, California, Florida and Michigan, but Maine is the largest producer of blueberries in the world. Virginia is not famous for growing blueberries, but Pungo blueberries are pretty darn good and there is nothing like eating blueberries that you picked yourself.

Blueberry Picking Tips
Look for blueberries that are firm, plump and blemish free.

Berries, unlike other fruits, do not ripen once picked, so pick them at their peak ripeness.

The size of a berry does not indicate the sweetness or ripeness, but the color does.
Berries with a reddish color aren’t ripe and will be tart, but can be used in cooking. Purple or royal blue berries are ripe blueberries. Some varieties take on a frosted look.

Store freshly picked blueberries covered in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Wash and dry before using.

Blueberries freeze well. Rinse and dry the berries before freezing in a plastic resealable freezer bag or container. Frozen blueberries can be kept up to one year.

Benefits of Blueberries
Recently, blueberries have been identified as a "superfood" in the United States, which is a food that provides extreme benefits when eaten. Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants. Blueberries contain large amounts of phytochemicals, such as polyphenols that trigger antioxidant activity that may help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. They're also low in calories and add Vitamin C, Vitamin E and fiber to your daily diet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dolphin Watching at Sandbridge Beach

What a special feeling to see bottlenose dolphins at Sandbridge Beach every day on your vacation! Sometimes they were so close to shore it felt like you were swimming with them. Don’t worry if you don’t get to go on a dolphin cruise or have an ocean kayak, just go out to the beach and you’ll have an exciting time spotting dolphins from the water or shore. While it's not illegal to try and pet one; don't be surprised if it bites you (remember, they are wild animals).

Virginia Beach is the home of the mid-Atlantic’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins. Each year, dolphins make Virginia Beach their summer residence. The peak season for dolphins in the Virginia Beach area is from June thru September. There is still time to catch sight of the dolphins this year!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Virginia Peanuts are Special!

All Virginia-type peanuts are known for their large size and crunchy texture and have been referred to as "the peanut of the gourmet." The Virginia Marketplace offers a great assortment of Virginia Peanuts!! Salted, Unsalted, Sweet, Seasoned, Gift Sets, and Chocolate Covered in season. We’ve sent them all over the United States, even as far as Alaska and Hawaii. Coming soon…holiday labels and gift sets!!

Virginia Peanuts are grown throughout southeastern Virginia. The month of September is earmarked for recognition of the Virginia Peanut and the Virginia Peanut Farmers in Southeastern Virginia.

In Emporia, Virginia, they will be celebrating the 47th Anniversary of The Virginia Peanut Festival from Sept. 24 – 27, 2009. “Harvest the moment…Celebrate Virginia’s Heritage”

Suffolk Peanut Fest will be held Oct 8-11, 2009. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of Suffolk, Virginia’s premier festival. This event honors the city’s agriculture heritage and devotion to peanuts. "Holding on to the Past, Looking forward to the Future"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The New Virginia Marketplace Blog

Welcome to The Virginia Marketplace blog. The Virginia is an online marketplace offering an outstanding selection of gourmet foods and gifts produced in Virginia. We also design unique Virginia gift baskets and boxes.Visit us to shop for the finest foods and gifts made in Virginia...gourmet Virginia peanuts, Smithfield hams, Chesapeake Bay seafood soups, seafood dips, fine desserts, jams and honey... They make great gifts for special occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Year's, Easter, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, and Birthdays They make thoughtful Get Well, Thank you, and Housewarming gifts or they can be enjoyed at any time at all.

In future posts we will be highlighting everything we love about Virginia!