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Advance Planning

One of the side benefits of getting the Friends and Farms basket is the advance notice which lets me meal plan. About one week in advance the notice is updated on the What’s in the Basket page.

With this information, I begin planning what to do for lunches and dinners. Like this past week.

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I knew we were getting Coho salmon. I planned tonight’s dinner to use it. I will be doing crock pot short ribs Tuesday night, since I will be out most of the day. Crock pot meals work well around here. Eggs, already there was a frittata last night. Why?

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Because of this lovely rainbow chard I am still getting from my garden.

The other protein item pictured above came from the available items listed at our pick up site. The office in Columbia. I wanted to try the hot dogs for an upcoming picnic. They are from the main meat supplier to Friends and Farms. Wayne Nell and Sons. They sell Sechrist Brothers all beef hot dogs.

As for the rest of my basket, here is most of it.

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Everything is there but the arugula, Which was off to the side and I forgot about it. Found it later. Thankfully hydroponic arugula can be revived easily. Just add water.

The broccoli is destined to be steamed for dinner tonight. The mushrooms, with CSA bok choy and chicken will be stir fried. The potatoes already became potato salad to use with the hot dogs. The eggplant, with the red bell peppers I got from the CSA will become my ajvar, to use for those quick dinners where I spread it on flatbread and grill it.

The tomatoes, sliced to be the salad with dinner tonight. And, the zucchini will become fritters tomorrow night. To serve with the chicken I made the other day.

I bake all the chicken breasts I get and plan meals around them. Maybe a chicken Caesar salad. Or the upcoming stir fry. I get three or four dinners a week from my basket.

I also get dinner to the table quickly by doing that bulk cooking in advance. Like Thursday when we got home late. A quick bake of a frozen flatbread. A slather of ajvar and a sprinkling of goat cheese. A green salad on the side. Voila. Dinner.

Red Veggie Week

When I opened my newsletter from Lancaster Farm Fresh, four of the eight items had the word “RED” in them.

I am a firm believer in eating by color. I even have the book from Williams Sonoma that tells us how great those rainbow of color veggies and fruit are for us.

According to the book, here is what red veggies bring to us.

“Red fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants for protection and healing. Promote heart health. Promote urinary tract health. Help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Improve memory function.”

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Here is what we got this week. That black futsu squash (which happens to be orange at the moment). That Italian style chicory. Bok Choy. Onions. And the four “red” items.

Red radishes. Red bell peppers. Red romaine. Red potatoes.

I include the potatoes because I will parboil them and use them in potato salad, including their skin. With organic veggies, I don’t mind using the skin.

Besides the vegetables this week, my fruit share included these items.

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Honey crisp apples. Asian pears, KIWIBERRIES! Again. We really like these berries. A great snack.

This was a cheese week too.

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Three cheeses. Once a month. Every month is different. We have had no repeats in five deliveries. A smoked gouda. A sheep’s milk ash cheese. And, a lavender goat cheese.

We also got 2.5 pounds of chicken wings and a couple of skinless chicken breasts in our chicken share.

This basket, with our Friends and Farms basket, means no trips to the grocery store again. Unless we run out of toilet paper.

“Chopped” In My Kitchen

Sometimes it does feel like I’m on that Food Network show. Like yesterday. Our weekly preview email from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

Tells us we are getting Galantina chicory, and black futsu squash. REALLY???? I thought we were beyond being surprised.

Like in the past, with things like Thelma Sanders squash and White Hamon sweet potatoes.

The squash intrigues me, as I may try growing it in the garden next year. Drying seeds and planting them. Like this.

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That was from my Thelma Sanders squash.

Seriously, I can’t imagine not having the fun associated with opening an email that introduces me to new and exciting vegetables, that inspire me to cook outside my comfort zone.

I am crossing my fingers that this fall we get more salsify.

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Life’s too short to eat boring food.

Tidbit Tuesday Again

Lots of random small talk today.

How about housekeeping? As in cleaning out the garden, getting ready for fall, and cleaning up my web pages.

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The Malabar spinach is going to seed. The big question is whether I will save seeds and replant in the spring. I didn’t use much of it. It did act as a very strong pollinator attracter though. Well, so did the basil.

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I imagine that the Conservancy bees got lots of pollen from the basil in the garden. Some days it was covered in honey bees.

Sometime this weekend I will be harvesting all the basil and there will be a pesto making marathon in my kitchen. I hit Whole Foods Sunday morning to get almonds and Parmigiano Reggiano for my pesto. Go early before the breakfast crowd shows up.

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It is almost time to plant the garlic. I have about two dozen cloves ready to go into my back yard garden. Once the trees start dropping leaves, they will get enough sun all winter and spring to grow and be harvested in early summer.

We are completely reconfiguring the Conservancy community garden plot. There will be four large squares instead of four rows. One for herbs. One for tomatoes. One for peppers, leeks, shallots and onions. And, one for everything else. I did plant some arugula and lettuce for fall. We learned quite a bit this year.

Keep the onions away from the corner where the hoses are. The excess water rotted a few of my onions.

Put paths around the outside. It keeps down on weed infiltration.

More on gardening in the near future. Let’s now turn to the other trivial things I have done. I updated a few items on my pages. Adding a couple of blogs I read. Making sure the farm page is up to date. Checking that I didn’t forget anything on my food preservation page. I still need to update my local resources, and to add my new page, still in draft, on HOCOBIZ. This will be my page that highlights small businesses in the area where I find really good service. These businesses are mostly family owned, but aren’t my food sources. Places like Kendalls, Clarks Hardware, British American. Oh, and restaurants. I will be putting a restaurant category on that page.

Yep, it’s time to do that fall cleaning. Like leaf raking. And weed removal. And, putting those wintery things in the cars. Where are those stupid ice scrapers anyway? Just hoping not to find too many days like this.

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Home Cooking!

That’s what I am doing today. Getting most of the CSA and F&F items cooked or prepped to make my week easier.

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Like making crock pot cauliflower leek soup.

I know we can be pressed for time, and trying to put dinner on the table is sometimes close to impossible. That’s why lately I have been cooking on one day and just reheating for a number of dinners after long busy days.

I had three leeks hanging around in the refrigerator. Got a cauliflower in the CSA basket. Scallions from Friends and Farms. I always have almond milk in the pantry. A little chicken stock from the freezer. Salt, pepper, garam masala. Made enough soup for at least two meals. Or one dinner, two lunches.

After taking it out of the crock pot, I did mash it up a bit with a potato masher, to make it creamier.

I also dry roasted the beets, for salads all week. I took four chicken breasts and put them in the oven next to the beets and baked them. I now have chicken for salad. For dinner tomorrow. And, for a stir fry.

Dinner tonight. Another one of those frittatas I rely on. The half not eaten will be lunch early this week.

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This one used a few of my tomatoes. The rainbow chard from the CSA. The top half of those scallions mentioned above. The last of the Scamorza from last week. Six eggs. Seasoned with a little Italian seasoning.

I have a real head start on eating well on the three days this week that we will be running around. And I made a major dent in the meat and vegetables delivered last week.

Still need to find a nice evening to make the edamame for an appetizer. And, to make hot pepper jelly with all those peppers we got.


When the whole is so much greater than the parts. Or, how we can feed ourselves wonderfully using two regional sources that add up to a week’s worth of outstanding meals.

A different take this week. Grouping.

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Protein. Both of our food sources, Lancaster Farm Fresh, and Friends&Farms. It was a chicken heavy week. F&F is trying out a new supplier. Bell and Evans. This week it was boneless skinless chicken breasts. Which have already become dinner. Pics at the end of the blog post.

My LFFC chicken share (that reminds me, check fall sign up) had three packages this week. Thighs, breasts and drumsticks. I should have done a throwdown between the two suppliers.

As for the rest of the Friends and Farms protein. It was an egg week. And, smoked bacon. A half pound of Nell and Sons ground pork. I am thinking frittata with the pork and eggs. Making the bacon to use with some greens. And, with a really good potato salad.

Let’s move over to fruit.

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Stanley plums and apples. From F&F. I am thinking of one huge gorgeous plum cake to take to the pot luck for Conservancy volunteers. As for LFFC. Three huge peaches. Destined to become peach pepper jelly. More on that later.

KIWIBERRIES! Check out the site to see where these lovely little gems originate. One of the real benefits of belonging to LFFC. Exotic fruits and vegetables.

There were two packages in our fruit share this week.

Vegetables. First, the LFFC half share.

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We have four ears of bicolor sweet corn. Cauliflower. Hot mixed peppers. Pink radishes. Beets. Rainbow chard. Edamame and green beans in the colander. The French breakfast radishes came out of the swap box, as I gave up my green mizuna. I have enough greens in the house.

Moving over to F&F.

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They advertised this week as wrap week. Using that awesome hydroponic butter lettuce. Raw peanuts. Scallions. Cucumbers. Thai basil. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. Zucchini (can you say fritters).

For the next week, like all our other weeks, we will enjoy homemade goodness, like this.

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Tonight I baked, in the same large pan, the Bell and Evans chicken breasts. Two for dinner tonight. One for my husband to take for a dinner while radio contesting this weekend. Last week’s cauliflower. Covered with olive oil, white balsamic, garam masala and salt. Last week’s tomato. Split open and filled with Italian dressing. A side salad from hydroponic lettuce, cucumber and radish. That meant I used up the last of the veggies from a week ago, and I am ready to take on this week’s.

So Far This Week

Not even halfway through, and already we’ve had our share of exciting times. Right here in the heart of Howard County.

Tonight, it was a blog party at Nottingham’s. When we lived in Columbia we used to enjoy going there and relaxing at their Tiki Bar.

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Even though they are located in an office complex, they hid the bar quite well so you don’t get the parking lot/storm water management pond views.

I like their pool tables, their Wii system, the laid back, kick you shoes off and enjoy yourself atmosphere. We were in the Event Room tonight. About 40-50 of us, talking, enjoying the Happy Hour and doing our networking thing that the local bloggers do.

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Thanks to Nottingham’s for the hospitality. It was a good “Hump Day-eve” event.

Earlier this week also saw me doing major time in the gardens, for the Conservancy auction basket collection, and the Food Bank harvesting. Still I had time to check out the bee interest in my garden.

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It does remind me however that I need to whack back the basil and get the pesto done for the winter. I spent time harvesting, cleaning and doing a little bit of planting. I put in arugula and lettuce. And pulled out the last of the peppers.

Next on my agenda is the removal of the spent tomato vines.

As for my other wanderings this week, I did food delivery to my better half who was ground crew for tower maintenance. He spent Monday at W3LPL’s helping him on one of the towers.

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For the record, he says he can see Dulles Airport from up there. We’ll take his word on it.

It’s only Tuesday and we’ve just scratched the surface of things going on around here. I still have naturalist training later this week at the Conservancy, and my husband has more antenna support work plus some tower procurement and a radio contest weekend.

Oh yeah, I’m helping my mom move in my “spare” time.

I need to go back to work. I could use the rest.


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