Some of you may know me and my family through Virginia Lamb & Meats -- where each week we sell meat raised on our farm at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington, DC. I am a fifth generation farmer or at least that's as far back as the stories I remember go. I grew up when most people knew where their food came from. But that's just not the case anymore. Here I hope to reconnect food to its origins with stories from the farm. Some are stories from my childhood, others are as simple as getting you to champion white eggs (yes, they can be farm fresh too!) when our twelve little Leghorns are unselfishly out producing fifty other hens during the winter months. You'll find lots of recipes, photos, and the occasional gardening ramble here too. But most of all I hope you leave with a new found respect for real food.

Mar 242013

Good Start SmoothieOkay, enough already! I have been fighting a cold all week and today, finally, I decided to put my foot down! No more.

I have seen my share of doctors the past couple of months and greatly appreciate their services. I wouldn’t be walking limp free without a very wonderful doctor. But I am a bit tired of the eye rolls I get whenever I discuss nutrition or more natural alternatives instead of prescription medications.

My rheumatologist won’t even consider that my RA could be linked to food or at least minimized by eating/omitting certain foods. A physician assistant recently totally ignored my excited report that chamomile tea bags helped calm a rash I had on the top of my foot. One that appears only on my foot that was operated on… AND one that three doctors have given me three different diagnosis for. It’s crazy that the daily news is full of all the foods we should and shouldn’t eat, yet repeatedly I run into medical professionals who won’t even listen to the effects of food on one’s energy level, mood, and overall feeling of well-being from the one person who spends 24/7 in my body… ME.

So to that end, I have decided to bombard my cold with nutrition! And what better way to start than with a healthy smoothie.

Good Start Smoothie

Strawberries: Contain Folate and Potassium as well as a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Manganese.

Blueberries: Another good source of Dietary Fiber and Manganese and packed with Vitamin C. Blueberries are known for their polyphenols – which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Elderberries: Contain an astounding 60% of Vitamin C, 12% of Vitamin A, 11% of Vitamin B6, as well as Thiamin and Riboflavin. They have powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties thought to sooth coughs, sore throats, bronchial infections and to make sinus conditions looser.

Yogurt: Contains Calcium and Vitamin D along with good bacteria for the digestive tract. (Could easily be omitted. I add yogurt for a smoother texture and to be sure I am getting a dose of my daily calcium.)

Orange Juice: Contains Thiamin, Folate and Potassium and is a very good source of Vitamin C.

Banana: A good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese, and very high in Vitamin B6.

Good Start Smoothie

  • ½ banana
  • 2 handfuls of frozen strawberries
  • 1 handful of frozen blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons of organic yogurt
  • ¼ cup elderberry syrup
  • ½ cup orange juice

  1. Starting with banana and add all ingredients to blender. Blend until completely smooth. Add more orange juice as necessary for desired consistency.

Serves 2


 Posted by at 11:26 pm
Dec 232012

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from all of us at Virginia Lamb & Meats.

This time of year, we can’t help but pause and reflect on all the wonderful friendships we have made over the years. Thank you for becoming part of our farm family. Your continued support and loyalty is what strengthens us, allowing us to continue a family tradition of farming!

With love, The Childs Family

 Posted by at 7:00 am
Dec 152012

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGfViIDZ62U?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

One of my favorite meals for a cold and dreary day! Serve over mashed potatoes with a fresh salad, rustic bread and a glass of Cabernet and you have a fabulous treat for one or a reason to invite over your family and friends. Either way it is the ultimate in comfort food!

Video used with permission by the American Lamb Board.

 Posted by at 11:20 pm
Dec 122012

Applesauce CakeOne of our favorite family traditions and greatest holiday joys is receiving one of Mama Childs’ Applesauce Cakes. We’ve been known to fight over them, hide them, or do whatever it takes to claim the prize of this wonderful winter treat. This delicious cake dates back to Corey’s great-grandmother, Delpha Belle Garver Childs, affectionately known as Mama Childs. She was a true farmer’s wife, canning in the summer, raising backyard chickens, and being known for her hand–me-down family recipes. Born in 1892 she lived into her 90’s. Although Mama Childs is no longer with us, her Applesauce Cake continue to be a family tradition.


 Posted by at 11:00 am
Dec 012012

Just in time for the holidays, we are offering five of our family’s favorite meat rubs. They make fun stocking stuffers, great additions to gift baskets, and unique hostess gifts. We will have them available throughout the month of December at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington, DC. Blends include Moroccan, Mediterranean, Creole, Blackening, and Savory Cocoa.

Priced at $5 per 1.5 oz packet.

Contact us for other delivery options.

 Posted by at 9:41 pm
Nov 022012

As some of you may have noticed, I have been a bit lacks in updating the blog lately. I love creating new recipes and can’t wait to get the camera out to capture the perfect shot. But unlike my fellow food bloggers who make it seem so matter of fact… fix dinner, hold off the kids and hubby, snap some photos, eat… that’s not the way we roll here. Dinner is often planned on the fly and I find I have to be very intentional in planning, setting up, and photographing my dishes. Oh, and it’s gotta happen before noon, as that is the only time of day that I get any measurable amount of natural light in the house.

So why the absence? I thought I would be blaming the kids’ soccer schedule OR going back to school OR farm choirs OR even that I have just been super busy working in the kitchen. And all of these have been partially responsible until a month ago, when early one morning as I was leaving for school, I did a nose dive down the front porch steps. Actually head first might have been less eventful. Instead thinking I had finished descending the stairs, I started walking to the car. Instantly I realized I had miscalculated and had another step to go. Flailing in shear panic, I hit the ground breaking my left foot and shattering my right ankle.

After surgery and while under the euphoria of pain medicine, I mistakenly thought, “Oh, wow, I get all this free time to read, plan, and write!” Ha! It has just been recently that I have been able to read more than a couple pages in one sitting or stay awake for more than a couple hours at a time.

Because this is a food blog and aside from perhaps a post on pickled pigs’ feet, I’ve hesitated posting as feet aren’t exactly a topic of culinary interest. But I really wanted to thank everyone for all the wonderful emails and cards. And to ask that you continue to be patient with me over the next couple of months. I still occasionally burst into tears for no obvious reason and believe I can accomplish much more than my body will allow. Other than that, I am definitely on the mend!

 Posted by at 7:08 am
Oct 292012

Thanks to hurricane Sandy, we are all hunkered down inside enjoying a very rare lazy afternoon. With the constant sound of chilling rain pelting the house, it seemed like a good day for a hearty bowl of soup.

Not wanting to leave the house, I used staples I found in the freezer and pantry. Feel free to make your own adjustments depending on what you have on hand. For pasta I used mini conchiglie (sea shells), but a ditali or elbow chifferi pasta would work as well.

You can use either pork or lamb sausage. And by all means, substitute in fresh herbs if you have them. This recipe can also be easily made into a hearty vegetarian dish if you prefer.

Pasta Fagioli Soup with Italian Lamb Sausage


  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 – 28oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 – 15.5oz cans white beans
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

  1. Cook sausage over medium heat until brown. Drain fat. Add diced celery and garlic. Continue cooking until celery is almost translucent.
  2. Add tomatoes, beans, chicken stock, pasta, and seasonings. Stir.
  3. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour. Serve with rustic bread, a salad or grilled cheese.


 Posted by at 5:54 pm
Oct 262012

Whether you are new to cooking or an experienced chef, everyone can use a little help in the kitchen sometimes. Here is a comprehensive kitchen cheat sheet for you to fall back on whenever you are in doubt. We find it useful and we hope you do too!

 Posted by at 3:55 am
Sep 142012

shepherd's pie

I stopped by my father-in-law’s house the other day to check in and see if the lambs were still getting in the yard. Between the lambs and baby goats this year, keeping the yard off limits has been a major struggle. It could be that the manicured lawn and ornamental flowers are beckoning beyond restraint. Or maybe, like most kids, they just can’t resist the urge to jump over the cattle guard or sneak under the fence and since they are already there, have a taste. At any rate, it appears that they are doing less damage to our grandmother’s gardens.

bucket of potatoes

bucket of potatoes

While talking to Farmer Dave, I couldn’t help but notice the two five gallon buckets of potatoes sitting on the kitchen floor still sporting dirt from being freshly dug. Being one who marvels at all the varieties of heirloom vegetables, I am sure my face lit up as I asked him more about them. They were Kennebec potatoes, a variety of white potato developed in Maine, great for boiling and baking. And, in his words, the potato all serious ole time gardeners from around here grow. Turns out they are a hard potato, one that stores exceptionally well, a huge plus for those who grow their own food.

I batted my eyelashes once or twice to signal that I was once again wanting access to one of Dad’s friends, being that he is one of the “ole timers from around here” and even after twenty five years, I am not (uh-hmm, from here). He quickly caved and gave up his source. After a quick phone call, I handed Dad a five dollar bill as instructed and he promised he would deliver them the next day. WOW! Five dollars for a whole five gallon bucket of home grown potatoes! They had to weigh close to 30 or 40 pounds. I would have purchased more, had I not been the proud recipient of the very last bucket.

Being raised by a meat-and-potatoes man, then marrying one, I have learned to fix potatoes in numerous ways. I boil them, bake them, and mash them. I make a mean potato cake, herbed home fries and a cheesy au gratin. With football season about to begin, and my never ending hope that fall will be here soon, I thought I would feature my new potatoes in a shepherd’s pie this evening.

A quick distinction: A shepherd is one who watches over a flock of sheep. Thus a Shepherd’s Pie (or sometimes called a Cottage Pie) is always made with ground lamb. I often see recipes online calling for ground beef in a Shepherd’s Pie. Ground beef can be used but then it is traditionally called a Rancher’s Pie. This winter I’ll share my recipe for Rancher’s Pie made with mashed sweet potatoes.

shepherd's pie

True Shepherd’ Pie

  • 4-5 medium potatoes
  • ¼ cup butter, diced
  • ½-1/3 milk
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 large carrots, diced small
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Peel potatoes and cut into ½” cubes. Add to medium pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil until fork soft approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile, brown ground lamb in deep sided sauté pan over medium heat. Cook until all meat is brown. Drain fat.
  4. Add carrots and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Add onions and garlic, cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add flour, thyme, rosemary, and tomato paste. Stir until well combined.
  6. Stir in beef stock, wine, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir in peas. Reduce heat to low and let simmer.
  7. Drain potatoes. Add butter and cover pan until butter melts. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add milk to potatoes and using potato masher or hand mixer, mash potatoes until thick and creamy. Add egg yolks and stir until well combined.
  9. Pour lamb mixture into a large greased casserole dish. Using a serving spoon, drop spoonfuls of mashed potatoes over lamb mixture until evenly cover. Sprinkle with cheese.
  10. Place in oven and bake of 30-35 minutes. Cheese and potatoes will begin to brown on top.
  11. Remove and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.


 Posted by at 7:58 am
Sep 072012

moroccan lamb tagine

This is one of the first Moroccan Lamb Tagines I created years ago. I started with a rather complicated recipe I found in a North African cookbook and simplified it to maximize taste while keeping ingredients easy to find, most of which I keep on hand. 

 moroccan lamb tagine

Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Honey

  • 2-3 pounds lamb shoulder chops
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 threads saffron, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • ½ cup golden raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cut lamb into one inch boneless cubes. Season with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in heavy bottom Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add lamb in small batches to allow for plenty of room. Using tongs turn meat and brown on all sides. Remove lamb and set aside. Repeat until all lamb is browned. Set aside.
  4. Add sliced onion and garlic to Dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent, scraping bottom of pan to release all the browned bits. Add cooked lamb, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, saffron, honey, cilantro, apricots, and raisins to pan.
  5. Remove from stove, cover and place in a 325 degree preheated oven and cook for 1½ to 2 hours or until meat is fork tender.
  6. Serve over jasmine rice or couscous.

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 Posted by at 8:30 am