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Category Archives: Day Trips

Linden Al Fresco

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My favorite winery. A lazy, hazy Monday morning. The view, spectacular.

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There’s lots going on down in the vineyards, and the tasting room, and in the vines. Let’s start with the vines.

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The Chardonnay vines turn 30 this year. Original to the planting of the vineyard. Just outside the front entrance to the winery. There was a very informative article on the front page of the Washington Post food section last week, about the wine, the vines and the master of it all. Jim Law.

Jim also got a new building this year. There is a new barn you see as you drive up the steep entrance driveway.

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Built to use for maintenance and storage of all the equipment and machinery needed to tend the vineyards. Unofficially called the man cave by a few of us.

Other changes.

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Renovation of the second floor to include large windows to drink in the views. Front and back.

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The back ones, on the left, are harder to see around the trees. This newly renovated space will be used for those specialty events now held in the small addition off the tasting room.

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This room, used for meetings and library tastings, and other events is limited to ten people. The second floor will be a more open space, and we can’t wait to see what they will do up there.

Some other changes coming too. New doors and a new layout of the tasting counters will be coming soon.

All in all, it reflects that saying on their website. “Never content”. Always trying something new.

Monday we spent a lazy two hours there. Enjoying the view. Tasting the 2012 Chardonnay. Comparing the two versions of the vidal blanc and Riesling pairing. One sweet, one more acidic. We like the acidic one. Perfect for Asian foods.

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Some Firefly Farms goat cheese. Smoked salmon. Baguettes. Wine.

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Earthquake. The ash veined cheese from Everona. Lovely cheeses. And wine.

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With this as the view out the doors.

Believe me, it is worth the 90 mile trip from here. Just to sit and savor and enjoy one of the best wines made on the East Coast (and even beyond).


Strawberry Season

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Officially opened today at Gorman Farms. You do have to check to see when they are open. They had some hail damage.

As for us, we got strawberries Thursday from Miller Farms in our Friends and Farms basket. They are also open for those who live south of us.

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These berries made it into three different meals already.

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Strawberries with greens. Such a simple great salad. I used arugula, romaine and the pea shoots from our baskets. A very easy yogurt dressing. Scallions from my garden.

The second use.

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Berry yogurt. Besides some of the strawberries, I used a few defrosted blueberries. The plain yogurt from Pequea Valley. A little agave for sweetness. That small care package in the fridge went with my husband for his 12 hour shift in an amateur radio contest. A few hardboiled eggs, and some penne pasta I made the other day.

The last of the strawberries from Thursday? I ate them. What can I say. I love fresh berries.

Besides Gorman, there are other pick your own farms around here. Depending on where you live, you can find one not far away.

Like Larriland, or Baughers in Westminster, or Butlers Orchards in Germantown. They are all saying early June opening.

Berries are a fruit that we enjoy picking. Our freezer was stocked with berry syrup cubes, and frozen berries.

We will as usual go out to Larriland and pick at least 20 pounds. You can’t beat the price.

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Mother’s Day Stuff

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Like tea and scones at the Conservancy. Or azaleas at Brighton Dam. Or brunch somewhere.

What are you doing for Mom’s Day?

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What could be more enjoyable than a leisurely stroll through all the gardens at the Conservancy while drinking tea and eating scones (some of them are mine!)? Garden clubs and volunteers are there to show you the beautiful flowers popping out in the gardens. Tea is being served in the historic farmhouse. This is all on Saturday the 10th.

On Sunday, you could head out to Brighton Dam to see if the azaleas finally look like this.

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We were there today. The azaleas are coming along, but this winter did freeze a fair number of buds so they aren’t as magnificent as other years.

Whatever you do, the promise of spring time temperatures and flowers galore should take you outside to enjoy this lovely weather.


All Markets Are Not Created Equal

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Some of them are truly awesome.


Like the market in Manheim Pa. We have been there once before, in the winter. Today, with great temperatures and lots of sunshine, we headed back north to look for a few things, and to enjoy the early spring weather.

I wish we had a market with 89 years of history. What started as a poultry market has evolved into a huge 200+ vendor flea market, auction, produce market and all around interesting slice of Americana.


You can still attend the poultry auction as well as a produce, flower, and shrub auction every Tuesday, year round. About 100 minutes away from Columbia. A good destination. Particularly for things like this.


That’s my pit beef sandwich from Hess BBQ.


When we were here a few months back, the outdoor vendors were closed. Today, vendors and flea market stalls were hopping.

I did end up buying a few Time Life Foods of the World books, on Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking, for a buck each, out on the flea market sites.

I almost splurged on the asparagus.


Yes, I know many of the vendors bring things up from the South, or even use wholesalers, but still, fresh produce is so great to see.

And, yes, I found some oatmeal raisin cookies, chewy, fresh baked.

Want to take a day trip and have market envy? Head up I-83 and east on US 30, then northeast to Manheim.

And wish we had something this much fun around here.


A Picture Perfect Weekend

I think spring is teasing us. Saturday and Sunday. Both days where you could just imagine the trees starting to bloom, and look for the crocuses and tulips to start poking their tips out of the thawing ground.

Solomons Island was hopping Saturday. We took a drive down there to sightsee since the sun was shining and it was warm out.


Unfortunately we do know we will have a few more snow and sleet events, at least in the forecast, and that it will be chillingly cold again late this week.

Today I did get to Lowe’s (along with about half of Howard County, it seemed – and the other half looked like they were in the Costco gasoline line). We picked up some potting soil for my spinach, arugula, kale and mesclun seeds. A trellis for this Malabar spinach, once I get to transfer it outdoors.

I am heavily into garden planning. There will be new herbs, and lots less tomatoes. I will fill in my needs for freezing and canning using the pick your own option at Larriland.

I used up more of my pesto from the freezer in recent dinners. Like last night.


Pesto is on the chicken and in the rice. Those split chicken breasts I got in my basket Friday were excellent. I used a simple method of baking them.


I placed a few basil leaves under the skin. Added some defrosted pesto cubes rubbed into the surface. A little salt, pepper and olive oil. Split a couple of the roma tomatoes from the Friends and Farms basket, which by the way, actually taste like tomatoes in the middle of winter. Imagine that! Some scallions. A small splash of white wine. Baked at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes until they registered 185 degrees on the meat thermometer.

The jasmine rice was steamed and then a cube of pesto melted into it. A bed of spring mix with a Caesar dressing.

Frozen strawberry ice cubes. Back when I was talking about my CSA essentials I showed my simple method to preserve those less than perfect berries. Cut out the bad spots. Put the good parts in a blender with a little sugar and puree. Freeze in ice cube trays. In the middle of winter, this is your reward.


Particularly when it is nice and warm outside and you are kicking yourself for not defrosting a few steaks. We did at least clean out the grill (something, either field mouse or chipmunk decided storing seeds in the side unit was a good plan). Fired it up and cleaned the surface. I will be ready when it warms up again. Maybe next week?


A Super Weekend

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And it had nothing to do with a very boring football game.

I did make spicy wings to eat during the game. We actually ate in the dining room since only one team seemed to have shown up to play today.

The rest of the weekend, though, was really quite nice. Good to see warmer weather before our next round of snow and ice and whatever.

We got to England Acres to pick up filets for Valentine’s Day, and some goodies for dessert (plus one to take to an upcoming Conservancy planning meeting).


Today we had our library wine tasting down at Linden. Postponed from that icy Sunday in early December, we got to savor some really lovely old wines as a treat for hanging in there with a two month delay.

Who would have thought that a 1993 Virginia Chardonnay could still be good? Not just good, but having “fruit” left and structure. We tasted four Chardonnays, and four Hardscrabble Reds.

The Chardonnays show us that you can make wines that age well here on the East Coast of the US. We tasted the 1993, 2002, 2009 and 2012. All from the Hardscrabble vineyard. We them moved to the reds. The 1992, 1998, 2006 and 2010 Hardscrabbles. Last, a comparison of the 1997 and 2004 Late Harvest Vidal Blancs.


Ninety minutes, where we conversed, tasted, asked questions and learned quite a few new things from Jim Law, the owner/winemaker at Linden.

My favorite. The 2009 Hardscrabble Chardonnay. One immensely intense yet elegant example of poetry in a bottle.

My other favorite today. The 2004 Hardscrabble being poured in the winery by the glass. Paired with some surryanna ham, and black and blue goat cheese.


Jim tells us he will be having more of these small events. No release party this year. The 2011 vintage, damaged by the late weather events (who can forget Irene and Lee?), meant no single vineyard reds that year.

We also found out about the building of the new “man cave”. A joking reference to the structure being erected just behind the winery. A heated space to work on equipment, from the winery and for vineyard maintenance.

We picked up a few bottles of the last of the Seyval. It was ripped out this year, to make space for more cabernet planting. The terroir there is better suited for Cabernet. Interesting to hear the changes coming in the future.

On our way home, we stopped in at Delaplane Cellars, near Sky Meadows State Park. Let’s just say, I want to live with this view.


Oh, and the wines are very nice, too. Impressed with their “cinq trois”.

Now, time to get ready for the snow.


Making Resolutions … Or Not

Last year I replaced resolution making with my “Sixty@Sixty” challenge to do in my 60th year. I found it was much more fun but still productive.

Like in my rightsizing challenge. Taking on the kitchen and pantry, the overload of books not needed, the work clothing we had in the closet.

I made it through most of those categories, failing when it came to finishing six items in traveling, birding, festivals and diners.

I blogged a few days back about whether I would forego resolutions again in the upcoming year.

I decided on a hybrid of the two. A couple of challenges, mixed with some real resolutions.

We need to clean out our garage of things that don’t get used. Or that should be stored elsewhere. I think it’s one doable goal. That we can get done.

I want to expand my baking. Using yeast for things like bagels, pretzels, and some other challenges brought about by reading Smitten Kitchen after finding that great granola recipe from Deb’s cookbook.

I am also committed to break out of my rut and get us to those new destinations, even if just for an overnight trip.

I want to redo the garden, and I have seeds for some challenging plants, like cardoons and Malabar spinach.

I want to go to The Common Market once a month and bring home something from the bulk food bins that I have never cooked myself, like those exotic rices, beans, grains and nuts.

As for blogging, I made it through the year (well, I have three days left) with blogging daily. Sometimes it was posted after midnight, but there are posts for every day.

Next year, cutting it back, to eliminate some redundancy, to 4-5 times a week and focusing on local things to do, places to go, and my farm series needs to be resurrected.


I also need to update those pages here on the blog, and finish the two draft pages I want to add.

As for time volunteering. The big challenge this year is the food preservation program I am working on. Plus, more time out on the trails around the Conservancy.


It is good to be busy. To have goals. To keep retirement interesting. 2013 has been pretty eventful.

Here’s to turning 61 in a few hours. That’s not old. That’s just getting started in the seventh decade. And, soon it will be 2014. Amazing how time flies when we’re having fun.


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