Everybody’s working for the weekend, and I’m no exception. This week has been at turns stressful and jubilant, and all the while, I longed for the weekend, the great stretch of Saturday when I could hang out with my girl and relax.
And that is exactly what I have done, Hampton Roads-style.
We started the day with breakfast overlooking our backyard, making a to-do list for the day. We had errands to run, which didn’t bother me. I sort of like errands.
Our first stop was the Book Exchange, our local used bookstore where I trade in old books and movies for “new” ones. We browsed the shelves, I got four “new” books (and “new” books make me really happy), and picked up a few movies, including some choices for the upcoming holiday movie marathon that I’ve hinted about to Amanda but have not fully divulged yet. We got “The Family Stone,” because as I told her, you need at least one or two holiday movies that make you weep profusely.
I posted on Facebook today that it feels slightly wrong to love a sandwich as much as I love the Funky Chicken Sandwich at No Frill Grill in Ghent. But I do. I love that sandwich. It’s my favorite, hands down, followed closely by the Cuban sandwich at Press 626. The Funky Chicken Sandwich is grilled chicken, crispy bacon, lettuce, cheese, and tomato, with a creamy Peppercorn Parmesan sauce, all on beautifully toasted (on the grill toasted… government butter toasted… college grilled cheese-style toasted) rye bread. With a side of crinkle fries.
We ended our day stopping by Five Points Farm Market to pick up our CSA, subscribe to the winter CSA, and order our Thanksgiving turkey, an Amish turkey from a local farm in Chesapeake. As we waited to place our order, we checked out local, ethically-raised pork sausage, and I noted that I’ll likely buy some of it to make the sausage stuffing for our Thanksgiving feast. And then it occurred to me; most of my Thanksgiving meal will likely come from the farmer’s market. I’m doing a (mostly) locally-sourced Thanksgiving for the first time! That’s sort of exciting.
In our CSA this week, we got green cabbage, which will likely go into soup. I might just try cooking up cabbage soup, or cabbage itself (if it’s in liquid, is it soup or just cabbage?), or it might go into another soup recipe. We also got kale, dark green with purple ribbons of color throughout the leaves. I love kale. I will either make kale chips or just saute it with garlic and olive oil and lots of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. We got a lovely little pint of raspberries, which are probably going to constitute part of our dinner later. A Funky Chicken Sandwich for lunch necessitates a lighter dinner later, likely cheese and crackers and fruit. And we got a big bag of organic yellow onions, which will be useful in all sorts of recipes.
And then there were turnips. Oh, the turnips. They are the biggest challenge I face as a CSAcationer; in the winter, we get greens and apples and oranges and squash and (gulp) turnips. I’ll be real with you. I just don’t like turnips. But I always try to find ways to make them edible and delicious. I shall try again this week, looking for a recipe that will make them taste less like turnips. Maybe it’s time for turnips au gratin again; heavy cream and cheese makes anything taste good.
Now that we’re home, and the errands are done, and the temperature is cooling off again (70 degrees in November! Make up your mind, climate!), and the sun is beginning to set over the houses, I look back over my day. In Hampton Roads, where I’m from, there’s a big push for buying local. We celebrate local businesses – coffee shops and restaurants and markets and yoga studios and dance studios and furniture stores – and because my life is intimately connected to food, I am constantly reminded of the ways that I can live locally, live smaller.
I don’t really need the reminder though. Some of the things I will miss most when I leave this area are the small local businesses that I have come to love here. I’ll miss the spirit of community, the way locals jump on Liking my status when I mention my favorite sandwich at No Frill or post an Instagram photo of the statue inside Cafe Stella; the way we rally behind the art house movie theatre in Ghent, the way we have dates and meetings and study sessions and gab fests at local coffee shops and wine bars and frozen yogurt places.
That local spirit is all about independence and loving this place and wanting to see it be great. It’s about making friends and connections and celebrating those friends, supporting their events, shouting out to them and making sure everyone tries them out. And I’ve gotten to experience the warmth and encouragement that comes from that sense of community.
I’m waxing poetic about Hampton Roads. Again. And I’m reveling in my local Saturday.
Now, to continue planning that Thanksgiving….