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Category Archives: Family

The Year of the Sheep

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So is this the year of the goat, or the sheep?

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Either way, I’m covered.

Want to learn more about the New Year traditions of various Asian cultures? Come join Wendy Ng and Kyong Parker at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday at 10 am. to hear all about it.

Here is the write up from the events page.

Lunar New Year celebrations are linked to nature and are celebrated by billions around the world. Traditions abound with flowers, special fruits and foods, beautiful colors, games and posters throughout the house. Preparations for the new year also include organizing, clearing out, and cleaning. We invite families to participate in some of the Chinese and Korean traditions while learning the greetings and etiquette of Eastern cultures. Make and take home some of the decorations. Rain or shine. Program is free but registration is necessary. FEB 14- Saturday 10am FREE

They do want people to register to be sure they bring the right amount of materials.

It would be a fun Valentine’s Day morning excursion, before heading off for those romantic evenings.

See you there??

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.

Giving Thanks Again

Today. Instead of mindlessly spending money at crowded shopping centers. Like a number of my local counterparts, I completely avoid the downtown mall in Columbia and any of the megastores between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tomorrow I will go out and get the beginnings of our Christmas decorations, namely the garland and the poinsettias. From our local farms. I may head up to Breezy Willow to get some presents, but with the Howard County Conservancy holiday natural crafts fair next Saturday, the 6th, I may just do all my shopping there. Making my presents to friends and family completely locally sourced.

Today, though, we had our private Thanksgiving. Where we gave thanks for continued good health. For 35 years of Thanksgivings together. For friends who we will be seeing over the next few weeks at holiday parties. And family who will get together again for Christmas eve.

Yesterday we went to a family dinner, like we have done for most of these 35 years. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I made my first turkey as we were always in PA for Thanksgiving.

Now, we stay home. With no close relatives left on my husband’s side of the family, we no longer deal with the congested, sometimes icy and snowy trip up I-81. Watching the weather Tuesday night into Wednesday, I could understand the thoughts and actions of those trying to get home in bad weather.

Still, my MIL did the turkey in PA. My brother does the turkey here in MD. I never cooked a whole turkey in my life until 2006. Our second Thanksgiving after moving here. Our first without a trip to PA. We do Thanksgiving on Friday for us. Just a small “hen” from Boarman’s. This year was 12 pounds.

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This year I “did good” on the brining and the browning. Not so good on the gravy.

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Even though I washed off the brine before baking the bird, the pan drippings were too salty to make gravy. Happily, the turkey was moist enough not to need gravy and the stuffing was moist as well. We did a simple meal. Turkey. Stuffing baked on its own. Brussels sprouts. Dinner roll. And, I forgot to bring out my homemade cranberry relish.

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Served with a light pinot noir. Leftover pumpkin roll for dessert. As for that cranberry relish. It will get used with all the leftover turkey.

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I have a whole container full of breast meat to make meals. I also have the carcass and the innards in the crockpot making stock.

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Turkey soup next week on the menu definitely. Here’s to the holidays! Full of friends and family, and great local food.

To Honor Our Dads

Both our dads served in World War II.

My dad:

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A SeaBee. Construction Battalion. Enlisted at 17. Built airfields all across the South Pacific. Including the one at Okinawa, where my nephew is deployed, and a pilot flying out from those airfields. Truly something special for us, as he was in high school when my dad passed away. He never saw him graduate from Annapolis, or earn his wings.

My FIL. Ten years older than my dad, and a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Corps.

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Their paths may have crossed in the South Pacific. Like on Thanksgiving.

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We have my FIL’s service memory album.

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My mom probably has most of my dad’s paperwork. But, my MIL and FIL passed away and we have all of it. For most of us in my generation, our families were touched by WWII. So Veterans Day means a lot to us.

We are thankful they returned, met and married our moms, and we were born into this great country. For us, Veterans Day is special. Personal. We will never forget the sacrifices our servicemen made.

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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To Honor Our Dads

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Both of our dads loved to cook. I remember watching my father in law at the stove, frying up something special. And my dad, with his favorite foods. That he made the way he liked them.

Our dads are no longer with us. My FIL, 33 years ago. My dad, 11 years ago.

We still have memories. Pictures. Favorite moments.

Tonight we honored them by cooking things from their birthplaces, and using techniques they loved.

Like pan frying.

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These are baby bella mushrooms from PA. My husband’s home state. The hanger steak. Also from PA.

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I pan fried a hanger steak with red wine mushroom sauce.

I also made one of my dad’s specialties.

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Cole slaw. A simple one. Cabbage. Carrots. A simple slaw dressing (I cheated and mine was from a bottle). My dad made his own.

The food tonight came from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, in PA. And, Friends and Farms, mostly sourcing items from PA and MD these days.

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The salad. Baywater Greens. Strawberries from the community garden. Cheese from MD. A simple lemon vinaigrette.

The wine. Not local, but our dads were beer drinkers, and this steak begged for wine. My dad, Natty Boh. My FIL. Yuengling.

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For us, though, a toast using a ten year old cabernet reserve from California.

Here’s to memories. Here’s to dad.

#hocofood

And So This is Christmas*

*credit to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

One of my favorite holiday songs. Particularly the line “and what have you done?”

Interestingly, Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is. But, Christmas is when almost all the family gets together.

Tonight, three generations of my father’s side of the family gathered. The closest ones. The first cousins. Their children. Grandparents.

To me, watching the little ones smile is my favorite part. We don’t do presents much anymore at our level. We don’t need lots of “things” these days.

I prefer giving to getting now. And, I like to expand the giving in the days after the holidays.

So, I will head out to the food bank with all the extra items purchased for cookies and candy that wasn’t made. Things like butter, sugar, nuts. Add a stash of items like beans and rice and grains. Stop and pick up some “on sale” foods, now that the holiday is past. This is the time the food bank can use items. After that holiday rush of giving.

Plus, I will compensate for those new items we do get, like the scarves and sweaters. I will do another run through the drawers and the closets looking for warm clothing to add to the St. Vincent de Paul bin, down at Kendalls’ hardware store.

The holidays are special. Let’s keep the remainder of the year, and beyond, just as special.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

hocoblogs@@@

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