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Category Archives: Day Trips

Making the Rounds Mt. Airy

Today we ventured out to Mt. Airy. For a few errands and a chance to try a new place for lunch. I love Main Street Mt. Airy. All the old buildings. Like the Country Store, and Concettas, where we had lunch.

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Concettas Main Street Bistro is just on the south side of Main Street, down the hill from the big parking lot. If you want cannoli shells or filling, tiramisu ladyfingers, pizzelles, Sun of Italy products or Italian made pastas, they have them. Lots of other good things too. This is a neighborhood place. People are super friendly. We went in and ordered an Italian spicy cold cut sub for him, a Concettas club made with turkey for me, a couple of San Pellegrino blood orange sodas, and sat there enjoying the day.

Followed by a trip up the street to Wagners to get some good lamb chops for Valentines Day.

Which are now happily being marinated in red wine, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

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While there we also saw a special on wild Texas Shrimp so there will be surf and turf Saturday night.

Heading back across the road, we stopped at Tractor Supply to see when they will be getting the spring vegetables in, particularly those onion sets that did so well for me last year in the garden. It is Dollar Days there, and we stocked up on suet to keep the birds happy.

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Suets are 6 for $5. You can’t find a better price for suet around here.

They also have baby ducks in the pens. The chicks don’t arrive until the end of the month. But “M R Ducks” (showing my Baltimore upbringing here). No pics allowed of the ducks or chicks.

All in all a pleasant couple of hours in one of the special old main streets in the area. Full of mom and pop stores, quaint restaurants and an outstanding butcher.

Home for the Holidays

Yesterday we took a trip back to my husband’s home town. Mainly because we hadn’t been there in 18 months, and we wanted to check in on some things (and buy some of his favorite kielbasy). Most of the family is gone. Moved, passed away. A few friends still in the area, but not many.

It’s a deeply depressed coal mining town. We found my husband’s old house on the market again. Like hundreds in the area. We were lucky to sell it quickly 12 years ago when my MIL moved to a retirement community in Pottsville.

The cemetery. Covered in fog and snow. Too wet, windy and cold to try to take pictures. We were there to check on the gravesites, before paying our yearly maintenance fee to the man who the church uses to maintain graves for those who are no longer local. The cemetery is on a huge hill outside of town. At 1800 feet elevation according to our GPS.

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This picture, taken last year shows the wind turbines installed on the ridge. Yesterday we couldn’t see them, the fog was so thick.

As for getting that kielbo, we forgot that Kowalonek’s gets really crazy at the holidays. Lines out the door, through the parking lot and around the corner. Not our idea of what to do in the rain and wind. We decided to head south to Manheim and look for fresh kielbasa at the Roots Country Market and Auction.

We found some at Hummer’s meats. A three pound ring of fresh, not smoked kielbasa. It almost is as good as his hometown version but not quite. We also picked up some of Hodecker’s celery, a real delicacy harvested in the fall and early winter. The web site is from the Bed and Breakfast at the farm where the celery is grown.

Some of that celery went into stock tonight. The leaves were frozen for later use.

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We took the back roads up and back. On the way up, we stopped at the Peters Orchards to get some gifts like this one.

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Cranberry salsa. Made in PA. Peters carries a nice selection of hot pepper jellies, all sorts of jams, honey, syrup and much more. They are open year round and are on the way to Carlisle on Rte 94. My husband couldn’t resist the molasses cookies either.

All in all, on a rainy blustery day, we had a good time, even though traffic was awful on the way home. I have to admit, I don’t miss that commute in really bad weather up I-81.

Now, off to bake cookies and other goodies using things I picked up at the market.

The Linden Library Tastings

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2014 edition.

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This is the aftermath. This year we tasted cabernets and Hardscrabble blends.

What is a library tasting? Every year, Linden has two Sundays reserved to taste older wines. And, to hear the stories while asking questions of the owner/winemaker Jim Law. As a locavore/locapour I love Linden. For their dedication to serving local foods in their winery. For their passion that Virginia can be one amazing place to grow grapes and make wines similar to those found in Bordeaux.

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These were the wines poured. A 1989 and a 1991 cabernet. A reserve 1997, which was mostly cabernet franc. 2001, 2006 and 2009 Hardscrabble blends. All from the vines on the property. Plus, a 2013 barrel sample. Oh, and before we entered the tasting room, out in the main area, we sampled the current release of the 2010 Hardscrabble.

My favorites. The 1997 Reserve and the 2009 Hardscrabble. Library tastings let you see how the wine matures. If you should open those bottles in your cellar.

The 1989 was going downhill fast. This wine was older than the year of our first visit to Linden. Our oldest wine was 1990. Long gone from the cellar. So is our 1991 vintage. We drank the last one in 2006. Happy to say that this wine still has life in it.

We learn quite a bit at these tastings. New things for me. Green rock versus granite and what that means for white and red grapes. More about extraction, with anecdotes about the sharing of the winery with RdV’s French consultant. Vine placement, east-west or north-south. Which is better? Pruning timing. When is best to prune?

Jim spends 90 minutes for these tastings. Sharing stories. Answering questions. Reflecting on growing grapes in Virginia.

The library tastings sell out in one day. Only four tastings. 9 people maximum each tasting. Three dozen lucky case club members get to taste magnificent wines and increase our knowledge.

If you ever get the chance to do a vertical tasting, a library tasting or a reserve tasting at a local winery, you should do it.

In Search Of Kielbo

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Our search for a local source of fresh kielbasa continues. For my husband, who grew up in a town where kielbasa was made a certain way, we have looked near (and far) to find a source for “kielbo” that tastes as good as his hometown favorite.

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Fresh. Just like this one. From here.

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The closest we have come is from some local farms, but it isn’t quite the same.

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You can see the difference in the texture. And, they are different. Last Friday we decided to check out the meat department down at the Amish market in Laurel. Beiler’s price list includes Polish style kielbasa, but they didn’t have any. Just garlic kielbasa grillers, and smoked kielbasa. Which is not the same thing. Not bad, but not fresh and garlicky like his hometown style.

We did find some other goodies at the market, which is open Thursday through Saturday weekly. This market moved to Laurel from Burtonsville. It is much busier, and bigger, in its Laurel location. I hit the bulk food vendors for some ground coriander, which isn’t easy to find, and some apricot jam to use on an Asian pear tart I want to make for the holidays. At the meat vendor, we did find “hot half smokes”. Anyone working in and around DC knows about half smokes. We also brought home a very small piece of garlic ring bologna and a pound of bacon ends.

Unique items, including bison, are available at the Beilers meat stand in the market. The market also boasts a pickle vendor, with vats of different varieties.

We have to return for a longer visit sometime this winter. This close to home Amish market reminds us of the ones up in PA on the way to my husband’s hometown.

Ethanol Free

We finally gave up and had to find an ethanol free gas station. I swear that ethanol is doing us more harm than high fructose corn syrup. Neither one of them is good for us.

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The closest place for us to buy it is in Littlestown PA. Full serve. In the rain today we drove up to fill up the gas cans for the snow blower, the lawn mower and the leaf vacuum. So far, in the past year, the string trimmer, snow blower and lawn mower all had carburetor work, because of the E10 gas gumming them up.

Other than the Eastern shore of MD, where the marinas are located, there are few choices near us. Charles Town WV. Front Royal VA. The one above in Littlestown. All on our short list are sources when we go on other trips in those areas.

We were really careful with our small engine equipment, draining when not in use. Using the additives. This has been the year we had major issues, including losing the lawn mower for 10 days while it was fixed. Thankfully, the tractor is diesel powered.

So, on a rainy Monday we drove 40 miles to get gas. Decided to stop on the way back at Baughers in Westminster to get a few items. Like my husbands favorite ice cream. Pumpkin.

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The last quart in the case. Perfect for his birthday dinner this week.

As for Littlestown, it is just up Rte. 97 a few miles north of the Mason Dixon Line. On the way to Gettysburg.

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Downtown is already decorated for Christmas. It reminds us so much of my husband’s home town in PA.

As for finding ethanol free gas, here is a great website.

And if you aren’t using ethanol free gas in your 2 cycle engines, it’s only a matter of time before it bites you too. Now, back to our regularly scheduled leaf removal.

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Three Years Old

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My blogaversary is today. Three years ago, I started it to record my retirement journey. I took a few CSA pictures and started posting, inspired by a couple of local bloggers who recorded what they got from their Breezy Willow CSAs. I added my fall CSA bounty into that mix.

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Kitchen Scribble and Allura. Kat at Kitchen Scribble still blogs, but Allura is no longer active.

Between howchow, the biggest local food blog, and the hocoblogs pages, I pretty much learned what was interesting to others, to get them to read my blog, and to find topics to keep it going.

And, somewhere between the Old “Dark Days” challenge, where I began that locavore journey in earnest, and today, I turned my focus from unconscious consumer of whatever was on sale or looked good, to a proponent of small businesses/farms/local purveyors and much more. I honestly think I became that advocate because of the blogging. I didn’t start out to write a food blog. More like a “here is what interests me where I live” blog.

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What interests me the most these days is my community. Which includes most of Central Maryland. Still a pretty decent place to live. Even when the weather is awful. I haven’t tired of exploring it. Or of writing about it.

Stay tuned for a winter of exploration. Going to places brand new to us, rediscovering some old haunts that we haven’t visited in a long time. Winter isn’t a time for hibernation.

It’s also a time to really enjoy the outdoors. Want to join us for a hike this coming Saturday? A family hike out at the Mt. Pleasant site of the Howard County Conservancy. Groups of different ages, and paces, who will explore the grasslands and woodlands with volunteer naturalists leading the way. Free. 10am, November 8. The long term weather forecast looks good.

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The pot people are waiting to greet us.

Sunday Drives

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It’s the height of leaf peeping season here in Central Maryland. That cool couple of nights really made a difference in the depth of the colors. Sunday drives will be rewarded with stunning views like these.

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This was Larriland, but today I want to recommend heading farther afield. So to speak. Like to Sugarloaf Mountain, to visit the winery, maybe hike a few of the trails and check out the artisans in the Dickerson area.

Wineries have tremendous views in the fall, when the vines turn color to match the scenery.

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Some grape leaves on the vines turn red. Others yellow or orange.

If you want other close options that include time spent driving on back roads filled with color. Consider Black Ankle, just out Liberty Road. Or maybe Breaux just south of Harpers Ferry. Breaux now sits on a road with at least a half dozen other wineries. We haven’t tried any of them yet, except for Notaviva. We may have to plan a trip soon. Besides, Harpers Ferry alone is worth the drive.

If you want a new place to find pumpkins and apples, check out Baughers in Westminster.

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Besides the farm, just west of the city off of Rte. 140, the restaurant near McDaniels College has some of the best ice cream, and lots more at the farm stand.

This is also the last weekend for the Fall Festival at Gaver Farm, outside of Mt. Airy.

Any of these local farms have their final weekend events, too. Like Larriland for their straw maze for the little ones, Sharps, Mullinix, for those maze enthusiasts and apple/pumpkin pickers.

Who needs to drive all the way to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, when there are all sorts of events in Howard, Carroll and Frederick Counties.

Before autumn leaves us, it’s a great weekend to enjoy the local colors. All of them.

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