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Here For The Food

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An old favorite cookbook that made the turkey easy. A simple brine. A simple technique. Whenever people think it’s too hard to cook or bake they should pull out this book.

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If you want a turkey this good, they should google orange juice brown sugar brine. It will take them to Amazon where this recipe was featured.

The turkey was perfect. The brining took 15 hours for my 13 pound turkey from Maple Lawn. Their web site will be updated on December 7th for those who want to try turkey for Christmas.

For us, the small hen was easy to handle and fit into the dorm sized refrigerator for brining.

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I put a platter out for our Thanksgiving dinner. I made soup with the wings and the one drumstick my husband didn’t eat.

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I also made 5 quarts of turkey broth with the innards, skin and bones after making the Thanksgiving meal.

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Three jars went into the freezer, and two quarts went into that soup. I will be making sandwiches for a few days, and a turkey casserole this weekend. All told, that bird will yield at least a half dozen meals. Not bad for $33.

And, I gave my mom about a half pound of perfectly cooked moist breast meat to make sandwiches and a dinner.

Local food. Easy to make. Worth the time it took. If you haven’t tried making a turkey, you should get over to Maple Lawn and buy a small 10-12 pound hen. You really don’t need to brine it. But, it really improves the taste.

Thankful for What We Have

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A time spent with family and friends to celebrate. To be thankful for everything we have.


For the ability to travel freely. For the ability to say what we wish. For the ability to get a good education. To have clean water. Relatively clean air. Food, water, shelter. We take it for granted, many of us.

Carneros at Thanksgiving

Carneros at Thanksgiving

We don’t always do enough for those who don’t have all of the above. Or, don’t have most of the above. I only do a small part. Those weeks last summer that I spent doing the food bank garden are only a drop in the bucket.

Want to help in a small way all winter long? I know a few ways to help, and I am making a note to remember to do those things before Christmas. Go to an outlet. Buy a large amount of socks, mittens, gloves and/or scarves. Find a local church or nonprofit who is collecting items to be given to those who need them to keep warm.

Head over to Costco with a plan. If you can afford $50 or $100, fine, but any amount helps. Buy those bulk packages of canned goods. Tuna. Beans. Two good candidates that help the Howard County Food Bank. Keep the Costco receipt and staple it to your donation acknowledgement. The food bank really needs useful foods. Not the cleaning out the pantry stuff, but things that people who only have a hot plate, and maybe a microwave, can use.

We learned when we put our garden together that certain foods are used the most. Many of the people who need the services don’t have the ability to make meals from scratch. They lack the pans, the baking sheets, the ovens, or other items that we take for granted.

Go through your closets and donate any sweaters, coats, sweatshirts, warm pants that you no longer wear. Winter is harsh around here. We have been downsizing our life, by eliminating all those extras just taking up space and never getting used.

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I missed making a post for “Giving Tuesday” a few days ago. But, we shouldn’t need a day for giving. We should think about how lucky we are, to be sitting in front of a computer, or writing on a tablet, while warm, with the turkey in the oven, and all our family around us.

And, while we are at it, tomorrow, we will be Opting Outside, even if it’s only to string a few hundred yards of power cable to the radio tower. Maybe we will get over to Old Westminster Winery to see the new tasting room. They are open with music on Friday and Saturday evenings. I think it’s a better way to spend Black Friday.

It’s Turkey Day

The rush is on. At Maple Lawn Turkey Farm. Our local farm that raises free range turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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From 7am until 5 pm, before Thanksgiving, and then they still have hours after Thanksgiving, but these are the busy three days. I am brining my turkey overnight tomorrow, and cooking it Wednesday. Getting ready ahead of time and then I only have to brown it for the dinner. I am finding that to be a bit more manageable.

I also picked up a few extras.

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Drumsticks. Six to a package. Seven pounds. $5 for the package. The ultimate winter staple. Destined to become a number of pots of turkey noodle or turkey rice soup. I split them into two packs and vacuum sealed them. They are back in the freezer. The smoked breast will become a meal sometime next week. I put the breast and the turkey in the little fridge in my laundry room. Set to 35 degrees to keep them fresh.

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I got a 13 pound hen. Wrapped in butcher paper. Brought it home. Cleaned it up. Plopped it in a big bowl and put it away. Tomorrow I will make the brine and get it ready to cook.

It wasn’t that bad there this morning. At 10 o’clock, there was still close in parking and no real lines. You have to pay by cash or check. They do have a portable ATM outside, for those that forget. You can also pick up turkey bacon, ground turkey, wings and tails/necks, frozen, to take home for future use.

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Can’t get any more local than 10 miles down the road. The price is great, too. Thanks to the Iager family.

Sixty Five Years Young

Yesterday. My better half’s very significant birthday. Normally, I cook. We open a special bottle of wine and have a leisurely dinner at home.

This year, we celebrated in a bigger way. With a dinner at Bistro Blanc.

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Paired with wines from our cellar, and a few from our friend, Raj Kathuria, who has always made Bistro Blanc a favorite place for us to dine. We had friends from radio, and friends from wine dinners join us. “Marrying” his two favorite hobbies.

Chef Diego met with me last week to put together a menu. Using many local items. Very small plates. Paced so we could talk and laugh and enjoy the company. I only took the phone out to record the very last course. The small treats finishing the meal.


Peanut butter and vanilla macarons, and bourbon toffee bonbons. The dessert courses were accompanied by one of our very old bottles of vintage port.

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From the year we were married. Bought decades ago at Wells Liquor in Baltimore, from the liquidation of the wine cellar of the Brentwood Inn. On very special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays, we have opened four of the six bottles we splurged on in the early 1980s. Back when we started putting wines under the steps in our town house basement. Most of what is here now is local. Good stuff from Linden, Black Ankle, RdV, Glen Manor, Barboursville and more.

This was the first time I ever put together a private dinner party. Bistro Blanc did an incredible job. We used the private dining area that holds up to sixteen people. We have been in that room a number of times for their wine dinners.

Thanks to all our friends for the pleasure of their company and for the thoughtful gifts and cards given to my husband. It was a memorable birthday in so many ways. Now, he just has to finish signing up for Medicare. Does that make us officially “old”?

The Thanksgiving Wine Decisions

From the local perspective.

I always try to serve local wines with our Thanksgiving meal. Since I go to the trouble of getting a local fresh turkey, and I have local organic CSA vegetables around here, I like to make the whole meal local. Sort of like those original Pilgrim meals. Food from near where you live.

I will be picking up my turkey at Maple Lawn this year. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I feel like being part of that tradition, or really, just maybe I want to get a few other items to put into the freezer for later this winter.

As for the wine selection, I am slightly changing my candidates this year.

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I am leaning towards serving the Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir. We have yet to make it down south of Charlottesville to visit this winery, but we have bought their wines at Early Mountain, north of Charlottesville. I will probably take the Linden to my brother’s house, as it is light and refreshing.

I considered that dry Petit Manseng.

For red wine drinkers, the Big Cork reds aren’t that heavy yet, as they still have younger vines. Their Cabernet Franc is light enough to match with turkey.

Big Cork is a Maryland winery. Another good local Maryland winery to pick from, is Old Westminster.

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They are one of the closest wineries to our home. They make some lovely wines, like their white blends. You can buy them at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City.

No matter what you choose, pick one or two local wines to serve. Make it a real Maryland Thanksgiving.

Tidbit Tuesday

Here we are heading full speed into the holiday season and there is quite a bit happening.

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Like this weekend, the holiday Colonial Celebration over at Belmont. I hear there aren’t many tickets left. Absolutely beautifully decorated, and with good food and libations, it is the only fund raiser that the Howard County Conservancy holds at Belmont to raise funds to support the educational programs held there.

Meanwhile, tonight at Mt. Pleasant, another of the meteor shower events. The Leonids. I will be there setting up and we are crossing our fingers that it isn’t too cloudy. The event is from 10pm-1am.

Here on the home front, I am trying to get ready for Thanksgiving, as one by one, appliances in my kitchen keep having problems. First, the dishwasher only intermittently drains. Even taking it apart and cleaning it out hasn’t solved the problem. Guess it’s time to find a new one.

Add to that, my microwave knob no longer functions. The microwave works, but you can only use the express button and push it enough times to get the number of minutes you need. Since I only use it for potatoes, pop corn and reheating coffee, it’s not a big issue for Thanksgiving, but it is just another place where we see quality is lacking.

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Last week our CSA had pop corn in it. I like to pop it in a paper bag for three minutes in the microwave. No need for butter or oil or clean up.

As for the “last straw”, so to speak, our oven door shattered. This is the second one. The top oven did it a few years back. The lower one, late last month when I put it into cleaning mode.

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Thankfully, it was fully contained in between the outer shields. I suppose I could still use it for a while as it shattered at the beginning of a two hour cleaning cycle, and I didn’t know it until it finished and unlocked. I had heard a “pop” and couldn’t figure out where it originated, until I opened the door.

So much for having a fancier oven. It seems bad glass is bad glass so matter who the manufacturer is. I guess this means I get to hand clean the ovens from now on. Or, I keep having to replace the glass. Annoying. Particularly as we get into my busy baking season.

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Cookie baking time is fast approaching.

Tomorrow, if I get a chance to sit down, I will be writing about Thanksgiving plans, including getting the turkey and the wine.

Get outside tonight, and look for meteors.

Standing Room Only

I love it when the free programs out at the Conservancy far exceed our expectations. Like today.

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Fifty two people. Ten of them little ones. For Frank Marsden’s talk and walk about finding wildlife in winter.

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Frank told us everything we always wanted to know about scat, but were afraid to ask. Like determining the diet from the color, texture and “ingredients” found. Like how grey fox and red fox are different. How we never see grey fox as they sleep in trees.

We went out for a ninety minute hike, looking for signs of wildlife. We did find deer tracks.

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We also found out that our former ground hog habitat, a large number of interconnected holes up in the meadow, have been abandoned by the ground hogs, and are now inhabited by fox. How do we know that? The smell of fox urine, a sure sign that fox have moved in and are marking their territory.

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We had a lovely day out there, even if it was a bit windy.

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The meadows are lovely this time of year, and by taking a leisurely hike, you can find many signs of the wildlife living here. Take a hike some day. There are four miles of marked trails, and with no leaves on the trees, you can see far across the ridges to neighboring towns.


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