2-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles

This recipe comes from one of our front-end team members, Delaney. She loves creating affordable, plant-based meals for herself and is excited to share her creations for you to enjoy!

If you have a craving for rich chocolate, this is a must-try recipe. You only need 2 ingredients, your microwave and one bowl. No mess, no fuss and lots of yummy chocolate truffles. You can even customize them and coat them with whatever toppings you’d like. I used some sprinkles I had in my cabinet, along with some powdered sugar and cocoa powder to coat these. I’ve put some suggestions for coatings along with the recipe, but feel free to get creative with them!

This recipe calls for coconut cream, but heavy cream also works to make the chocolate ganache base for these truffles. I recommend using chocolate that’s between semi-sweet or 70% dark to achieve the right texture and firmness for these truffles. You can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container if you want to save some for later. They’ll stay fresh for 1 week, or up to 2 months if stored in the freezer.

Ingredients:

¼ cup of coconut cream (find it on the baking aisle)
1 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
½ Tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Extras for Coating:
Cocoa Powder
Sprinkles
Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon Sugar
Chopped Nuts

Directions:

Scoop the coconut cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the coconut cream on high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it begins to boil. This will depend on the strength of your microwave, so keep an eye on your cream and adjust the time as needed.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour chocolate chips into the cream. Do not stir. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes. This will allow the chocolate to melt and easily incorporate into the cream.
After 5 minutes, stir until the chocolate is incorporated with the cream and no chocolate lumps are visible.
Allow the ganache to chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Don’t cover the ganache while it’s warm, as covering it will form condensation that can cause it to split.
Once chilled, use a small scoop or a spoon to roll the ganache into balls.
Coat the balls in your desired toppings or enjoy them plain!

Meating the Needs of Our Community

During April and May, many meat processing plants in the United States temporarily closed or slowed their processing speeds due to COVID-19. This caused concerns that we could experience a nationwide meat shortage, impacting how we feed our families.

These closures and delays have shed light on issues in the commercial meat supply chain, as many farmers can’t get their products to consumers despite steady demand for meat. We spoke with our local vendors, Polyface Farm and T&E Meats, about how they’re serving their customers during this time, as well as how the locally-based supply chain gives them an advantage over large-scale agribusiness.

 

In a telephone interview, Daniel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA, discussed how the farm has changed operations to meet customers needs. “We used to have a 30/30/30 model before the outbreak. That was split between restaurants, retail from our farm or grocery stores, and our neighborhood drops.” Mr. Salatin told us that at the beginning of the pandemic, Polyface Farm was concerned about losing business, as many restaurants began cancelling large orders. “Then, everything else went crazy,” he said, “Retailers and grocers like the Friendly City Food Co-Op, our online and on-farm sales went through the roof.” Mr. Salatin told us that these changes didn’t present many problems to Polyface’s ability to provide meat to their customers, other than trying to meet the drastic increase in demand.

 

Mr. Salatin explained that being a locally-oriented farm gave them freedom to change direction when they needed to. “Because our supply chain is small and local, it’s flexible,” he stated. “The commercial meat supply chain is like an aircraft carrier. When you load it up and it takes off, it’s going to take awhile to reroute it. The commercial food industry is built around packaging huge amounts of food for public spaces like restaurants and cafeterias, but now people are eating in very different places. Our local supply chain is like a kayak. We can change course easily without so much resistance.”

 

This statement from Mr. Salatin brought our attention to an issue in the commercial meat supply chain which has caused supply shortages in the previous months. The equipment used to process livestock in commercial meat processing plants is very specialized. This machinery is designed to package products in a specific way, often in packages holding large amounts of meat. These quantities are meant to be sold to restaurants, commercial cafeterias and other foodservice industries that need lots of product to stock kitchens and feed large amounts of people. With many Americans staying at home, demand for these industrial quantities of meat has almost disappeared. However, demand for smaller amounts of meat, such as those found in grocery stores, has skyrocketed. Many of these plants weren’t designed to package smaller quantities of meat and can’t convert their processing lines to package it. This means they can’t get meat to market in amounts people and families want to buy.

 

Mr. Salatin told us that Polyface Farm sends its animals to T&E Meats, a local processing facility in Harrisonburg, VA. He stated that T&E Meats has been able to process and package their meat at quantities they need in order to sell to grocers and families in the Valley. Joel Salatin, a co-owner of Polyface Farm, has had a business relationship with T&E Meats since 2008, when he and Joe Cloud purchased the processing facility from it’s previous owners.

 

We spoke with Joe Cloud of T&E Meats through email to find out more about how they’re adapting to meet the needs of they’re customers. His customers are local farmers, who send their animals to T&E Meats for processing. Mr. Cloud also discussed the issue of specialized packaging in commercial plants and compared his business to theirs. “We have a number of packaging options, which give us flexibility for either retail or wholesale type of sales,” Mr. Cloud wrote. He told us that as a small-scale processor, T&E Meats doesn’t use the type of expensive equipment found in most commercial processing plants. “As a small local meat processor, we can not afford those types of investments, but in fact still do most of our work by hand, including putting individual cuts of meat into packages by hand.”

Mr. Cloud explained that because T&E Meats processes products by hand, they’re able to be flexible when packaging products and aren’t forced to package specific quantities every time. This means they can adapt to the needs of their customers, such as Polyface Farm, to package products for grocery sales or to families through on-farm stores. Mr. Cloud told us that initially, T&E Meats experienced the same concerns about restaurant sales in the beginning of pandemic. “When the COVID initially hit Virginia back in mid-March, there were a few days when it looked like it was going to have a major impact on our business, as farmers saw an overnight plunge in restaurant orders.” Those concerns were soon met with an “explosion” of demand for processing, as farmers were seeing an increase in sales from groceries and families.

 

In his interview, Mr. Cloud discussed another issue the commercial meat supply is facing due to COVID-19 that impacts farmers as well as customers. The specialized equipment at commercial processing plants may seem innovative, however, Mr. Cloud stated that “because the lines involve a fair amount of robotics, each hog has to almost exactly all the same shape and size, which accounts for why we hear about so many hogs in the Midwest being slaughtered and disposed of. Because after growing just two or three weeks longer due to a delay in processing, they can no longer pass down that meat cutting line.” Unlike small-scale farms, most commercial farmers depend solely on commercial plants to process their animals. When these plants close, they can’t sell their animals once they’ve reached the sale weight or size. Because the specialized equipment used at these plants can’t process animals over a certain size, they may be euthanized if farmers can’t sell them for processing to commercial plants in time.

 

Mr. Cloud told us that this hasn’t been an issue for T&E Meats. “We may only be able to break down 30 or 40 hogs in a day,” Mr. Cloud stated, “but each one of those hogs may be a different breed, a different size, and they may each be cut to a different set of instructions.” Because T&E Meats processes animals by hand, they don’t have the same size limitations or requirements as commercial meat processing facilities. While T&E Meats has not experienced the same delays in processing that commercial plants have, they have needed to limit the variety of cuts or products they produce in order to keep up with demand. However, these changes are done to ensure that customers and families can receive popular or staple products that are in high demand during this time, not due to a lack of supply.

 

Many are concerned that they’ll struggle to put meat on their dinner table in the coming weeks. The success of our small-scale suppliers demonstrates that issues in the commercial supply chain are causing meat shortage concerns, not a lack of livestock on American farms. Small farms aren’t constrained by the demands of the large-scale, commercial industry and supply chain. In our supply chain, animals go from farms, small-scale processors and arrive at the Friendly City Food Co-Op.

 

The ability of the local supply chain to be flexible and meet the needs of our community stands out during this time. You can trust us and our local vendors to keep high-quality proteins on your family’s dinner table.

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Happy 9th Birthday!

The co-op turns 9 years old this Saturday, June 6. We’re celebrating in a couple of ways.

First, we are expanding our store! Raising the funds has been ongoing for a little over a year, and now we’ve met our goal. Construction began on Monday June 1st and is expected to last around 9 months. It will be the best birthday present ever!

We are also giving away some presents as part of the celebration. Head over to our Instagram page @friendlycityfoodcoop and enter to win – there will be a different gift basket giveaway each day this week!

Frozen Fruit Cups

This frozen treat is a great snack or dessert to make with your kids on a hot summer’s day! With lots of fresh and fruity taste from the blueberries and a creamy punch from the Greek yogurt, these frozen yogurt cups are a surefire hit. It’s easy to whip up in an afternoon and your kids can even help you make it!

This recipe calls for blueberries, but you can use any fruit you’d like, or you can use multiple kinds of fruit. This recipe also calls for unsweetened Greek yogurt. You can use any kind of yogurt you have on hand, sweetened or unsweetened, although Greek is recommended to give it an extra-creamy texture. If the yogurt you’re using is sweetened, you may want to omit the honey or maple syrup to keep the sweetness balanced.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
½ cup blueberries
1 T honey or maple syrup (optional)

Instructions:

Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners.
In a small bowl, add your yogurt and honey. Stir to incorporate.
Add a few blueberries to the bottom of each muffin tin.
Spoon yogurt into each muffin tin, covering the blueberries. Fill the tins about ¾ of the way full.
Add the remaining blueberries to the top of each muffin tin.
Place the muffin tin in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
Remove the muffin tin from the freezer and release the yogurt cups from the tin.
Peel off the paper muffin liners and enjoy!

 

A Guide To Buying Real Honey

Using honey as a sweetener has all kinds of health benefits. Honey is a naturally produced, unrefined sugar that’s rich in antioxidants. It also has anti-bacterialand anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal wounds or burns, in addition to being a natural moisturizer.

However, products advertised as honey may contain large amounts of added sugars and a small amount of real honey. Ingredients like rice syrup, beet syrup, corn syrup or wheat syrup can be added to decrease costs while maintaining the honey’s sticky texture. Other products advertised as raw honey may have been heat treated to prevent it from crystalizing. It may also have been filtered, removing the beneficial qualities of authentic raw honey.

The FDA requires that honey labels list any additives in their products, but clever marketing can lead you to believe you’re buying a pure product. In some cases, imported honey bottlers are unaware their product contains added syrups or isn’t an authentic product.

If the honey you purchase isn’t pure honey or authentic raw honey, you will be missing out on the health benefits real honey offers. You could be paying extra for an inauthentic product with few benefits beyond use as a sweetener.

True Source Honey® is a company that gives honey producers a certification verifying their product is transparently sourced and pure honey. If a product receives the True Source Certified® sticker, you can be assured that it’s pure, authentic honey. They offer a voluntary certification system. Honey producers aren’t required to receive certification. For this reason, many local honey producers don’t seek out certification.

In order to avoid deceptive marketing and inauthentic products, you can take several steps to check if the honey you’re purchasing is pure.

  1. Check the ingredients label on your honey for added sugars. If the product is pure, it should only list honey as its ingredient.
  2. Purchase honey produced from your local area.
  3. If purchasing from a large commercial brand, check the jar or bottle for the True Source Certified® sticker.

If you’re still unsure about the authenticity of your honey, researching the brand can be a quick way to determine its quality. Using these tips, you can make sure you’re paying for the product you want and nothing you don’t.

 

Springtime and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Spring has finally sprung! Now is the time when garden beds and pots are being filled with fresh soil, compost, plant starts, and seeds. If you’re like me, maybe you’re growing more things from seeds this year than you have before. The process of growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers from seed can seem daunting, but it’s also an incredible experience. You get to watch something so small grow into food that you can put on your dinner table. I got all of my seeds for this year from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. We carry a large variety of their seeds at the Co-Op. Last year I had the privilege of visiting their headquarters in Mineral, Virginia. I learned about where their seeds come from and about their operation as a whole.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, as we know it today, was established in 1982. Their first catalogue only had 65seed varieties, but included some heirloom varieties that were interesting and uncommon. The term “heirloom” is tossed around a lot in the produce world, but it isn’t strictly defined like the way the term “organic” is. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange defines heirloom as “an open pollinated variety developed before 1940.” After 1940, most new plant varieties were bred for large-scale chemical agriculture and not small-scale farming. As a result, some varieties of seeds were lost. Growing, saving, selling, and trading heirloom seeds helps to preserve old-school varieties and diversifies the produce gene pool. From the conception of SESE, most of their seeds were grown by the founder and by members of a local seed saving group. This tradition continues today, with most of their seeds coming from a collection of 60 small farms in various parts of the USA. Many of their growers are located in Virginia or other states in southeast region of the country. Some varieties of seeds they grow are, cleaned, dried and packaged on their farm in Mineral, Virginia.

In addition to growing and acquiring seeds for their catalogue, they also partner with other local organizations, like Commonwealth Seed Growers, to do seed trials. They also conduct breed trials to test out varieties of crops in certain conditions and to develop new varieties with different qualities. When I visited their farm, I got to see two different breeding trials. One trial was with the South Anna Butternut and another was with pickling cucumbers. For both trials, they were trying to breed crops that were good quality and resistant to downy mildew. In breeding trials, the goal is to crossbreed the best plants and save the seeds. To learn more about different seed and breed trials, you can visit commonwealthseeds.com.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is not open to the public and they do not have a storefront, but they occasionally hold farm tours in the summer. Every year, they also help host the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. This festival is a grassroots, volunteer-oriented event where local farmers, vendors, chefs, and educators come together to educate the public. They raise awareness about organic gardening, seed-saving, culinary techniques, history and more! Southern Exposure Seed Exchange helped to found this event. Each year, they grow and harvest many heirloom varieties of produce for the festival and offer tastings at the tasting tent. The late summer heirloom tomatoes are always a big hit! This year the festival is scheduled for October 3, 2020. For more information, visit https://www.heritageharvestfestival.com/.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers over 700 varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain, and cover crop seeds. Sixty percent of the seeds they carry are certified organic and many of their seeds are heirloom varieties. If you’re interested in learning more about the seed varieties they carry, you can visit their website at https://www.southernexposure.com/ or pick up a seed catalogue from our racks next time you’re in the Co-Op. Starting your garden from seed is such a rewarding experience, even if it’s just a few pots on your windowsill. Knowing where your seeds come from helps to bring things full circle and raises awareness around proper farming and gardening practices. Happy Spring and Happy Planting!

 

Guest Blogger: Friendly City Food Co-op Assistant Team Leader, Produce 
Mackenzie Jenkins

 

 

Building a Grain Bowl

Are you stuck thinking about what to make for dinner tonight?

Try whipping up an easy, delicious meal from your pantry by following this no-nonsense grain bowl guide.

Easy as 1, 2, 3… 4!

 

A Guide to Vegan Cheese

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to miss out on cheese. That ooey-gooey grilled cheese or a snack of sharp cheese on a cracker are still in reach with the plant-based alternatives offered at the Co-Op. Vegan cheeses are available in so many flavors and textures, perfect for anyone from a cheddar lover to a mozzarella maniac! They even come in all shapes and sizes like blocks, sauces, slices, shreds and spreads. There are plant-based versions of soft cheeses like ricotta and cream cheese, perfect for weeknight lasagnas or your morning bagel. You’ll find them in the dairy section, where there are lots of different brands available for you to try and enjoy.

 

Some non-dairy brands are vegan, but others incorporate some other ingredients that are potential allergens. For our customers with certain allergies or dietary needs, picking the right type of plant-based cheese is important.

 

Many of the cheese alternatives are oil-based cheeses. Brands like Daiya®, Follow Your Heart®, Chao® and Toffutti® use different oils as the main ingredient to recreate that classic, cheesy goodness. Many of them use coconut oil or soy as their main ingredient to flavor the cheese and give it the right texture. These cheeses are creamy and melt well in any recipe, but give them a little extra time and use lower heat to get the best result. For customers with soy allergies or coconut allergies, we recommend checking the ingredients in your cheese before purchasing.

 

Some plant-based cheeses use nuts as their main ingredient. Brands like Miyoko’s® use cashews to achieve their creamy texture. Kite Hill® and Lisanatti® use almonds as the base of their cheesy creations. Lisanatti is plant based cheese, but is not vegan. It is almond based, but contains the milk protein casein, making it unsuitable for vegans and those with certain dairy allergies. For our lactose-intolerant customers, it is a great cheese alternative. Some of these come in softer varieties that are similar to cream cheese or brie, and they spread easily on crackers or toast. Others have a solid texture that’s similar to the oil-based cheese alternatives. These cheeses are delicious, but not recommended for customers with nut allergies.

 

So don’t feel blue if you find yourself missing cheese on a plant-based diet or due to dairy allergies. You can find the perfect plant-based cheese for all your cheesy cravings.

Asian Quinoa Salad

This recipe is from our Friendly City Deli Department! It’s a packaged salad that appears in our deli case rotation. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Quinoa
2 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Edamame
1 Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 cup Shredded Carrot
1 cup Chopped Red Cabbage
1/2 Bunch Green Onion, sliced thinly
1/2 Bunch Cilantro, minced

Dressing
(Dressing recipe makes more than you need. Use extra on noodles or slaw)

3/4 cup Tamari
3 T Sesame Oil
3 T Rice Vinegar
3 T Sesame Seeds
1 tsp. Grated Ginger
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp. Salt

Instructions

Boil quinoa in water until all water is absorbed. Once cooked, spread quinoa on a sheet pan to cool. Combine edamame, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage, green onion and cilantro in large bowl. Add cooled quinoa. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour (about half the total amount) over salad to combine, adding more dressing if desired. Serve and refrigerate leftovers.

 

 

Creamy Mushroom Pasta (Vegan)

Makes 2 servings

This creamy mushroom pasta combines shiitake and white button mushrooms with a simple cream sauce to make one delicious dish. The Co-op carries a variety of fresh mushrooms and I was eager to create a recipe with them. Shiitake mushrooms have a smoky, earthy flavor, which pairs well with the mild flavor of the button mushrooms. I love cooking with mushrooms because they are versatile, hearty, and have a savory umami flavor. The cream sauce for this pasta is so simple to make and is made out of vegan butter, whole wheat flour, and soymilk. The silky sauce pairs perfectly with the savory mushrooms and tender pasta. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy mushrooms, I recommend giving this recipe a try!

 

Ingredients:

2 ½ tbsp. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Original)
12 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 ½ tbsp. whole wheat flour
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 oz. dried spaghetti
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

 

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, sauté sliced mushrooms in 1 tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until mushrooms become golden brown
  2. Season the mushrooms with dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Transfer sautéed mushrooms to a bowl.
  3. To the same pan, melt 1½ tbsp. butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add in whole wheat flour
  4. Whisk the flour and butter mixture for one minute. Add in soymilk and turn heat to high. Continue to whisk the cream sauce. Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk occasionally.
  5. While the cream sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil. Once water is boiled, add in spaghetti. Cook spaghetti for 12 minutes until noodles are tender.
  6. Add the mushrooms to the cream sauce and mix. Next, add in the spaghetti and mix. Transfer the pasta to bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

 

 

By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a graduate of JMU, and majored in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.