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Category Archives: Farms

Making It Taste Good

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The mantra of those of us who cook with the thought of providing delicious healthy meals to our families.

We all know it’s sometimes hard to get people to like greens. I am talking about hearty greens, like collards, kale, chard, arugula, escarole, spinach and greens from root veggies, like turnips, beets, radishes, carrots, and kohlrabi.

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The types of veggies we find in our CSA baskets. Like the turnip greens we are getting tomorrow from Friends and Farms. Or those collards from last week.

Interesting that we are real fans of leafy greens. Love the strange lettuce varieties we find. We have learned to stir fry or sauté all sorts of greens. A little garlic. Some balsamic maybe. Or soy sauce.

Make a frittata. Or omelet. Add them to soups and stews. Drop some amazingly good short ribs on top. Put them on pizza.

The possibilities are endless.

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We are about to enter serious greens season. With the markets. The CSAs.

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What could be better than freshly prepared, nutrient rich veggies as part of two meals a day. Salads at lunch. Accents at dinner.

Don’t forget to get your greens wherever you can find them. Popeye would be proud of you.


Keeping It Close …

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… to home. As in eating regionally. More and more foods that come into our house are regionally sourced. And most of what we eat are items that we make.

I just finished the next to last lamb from England Acres this weekend. It was a loin roast, that we grilled Saturday night.

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It ended up feeding us for two nights, as we finished it tonight with a bunch of thrown together side dishes. We bought half a lamb last April. All that is left are one package of ground lamb, and one rib roast. There were 44 pounds of lamb in our delivery.

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We didn’t order a lamb this year, as we are getting a good variety of locally sourced meat from the Friends and Farms basket.

Along with the lamb last night, we grilled a few of those lovely potatoes that were in this week’s basket. And some pesto rubbed bread.

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The potatoes were coated with garlic powder and rosemary. Olive oil too. The bread, from Wegmans bakery, had a coating of red pepper pesto.

The lamb was marinated in red wine, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.

Tonight the last few pieces were served with some collard greens, and a grilled naan with pesto.

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Those greens. Sautéed in olive oil, with scallions, the last banger, garlic, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and cayenne flakes. Who can resist perfectly cooked collards with that brightness of the lemon and kick of the garlic and cayenne.

Tonight, though, the star may have been the last Elk Run 2001 Cabernet from the cellar. Yes, 2001. Thirteen years old. From Maryland. And still hanging in there. Light. Soft. Almost sweet, since the tannins have faded. Who says Maryland can’t make good wine?

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So, the lamb was from Mt. Airy. The wine was from Mt. Airy. Can’t get much closer for wine and meat. And, better than many restaurants. Not a bad start to grilling season, and spring in Maryland.


Just Us Chickens

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The total chicken post. For whatever reason we just have chickens everywhere we look. Watching the girls run around England Acres (and getting to feed them, if you want).

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Or, how about the tour tomorrow. See the Conservancy web site, if you want to join us. After all, chickens are immensely interesting.

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The baby chicks at Tractor Supply. I always get inspired and want to buy some and get a coop, but then we just “chicken out” for some reason. While we were there last week, I wanted to take a few pictures of the adorable chicks but they prohibit picture taking.

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The joys of free range chicken eggs. The colors. You don’t need to dye these eggs for Easter. They already are amazing in color and designs.

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Who can resist the lure of these fresh eggs, with so much flavor.


How To Forget About Winter

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Winter? What Winter? How quickly we forget about winter when the temperatures start to rise and the sun comes out.

We spent two hours putting in the first row of the spring garden. Tilling. Planting kale and Swiss chard seeds and white onion sets.

After a scheduled community garden member trip to select spring plugs and seedlings from Sharps coming up, we will finish the planting and put in the row cover. Best to keep the bunnies from noshing on those tender greens.

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Big difference from a few weeks back when the snow was on the ground.


Today while we were out at the Conservancy, there were four busloads of school children doing service learning. At least six different plot holders were planting, tilling, building raised bed boxes and just flat out enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.

We stopped for a snowball before heading home. The first snowball of the season is always a treat. Spearmint with marshmallow. Our traditional favorite.

The next week looks to be filled with those days that make me stay here in Maryland. The perfect spring days. Cherry blossoms are popping out. Forsythia is starting to bloom. I will have daffodils within the next two or three days. Followed by the hyacinths and the tulips.

Add to that the Coop to Coop tour this Saturday. I also should head out to England Acres and pick up a few petite filets to grill. Or maybe that last package of venison tenderloin from the freezer. Or the first kofta of the season. The possibilities are endless.

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Putting away the soup pot and getting out the spices.

Oh yeah, as I said, Winter? What winter?


Farmers Market Updates

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Farmers Market spring season officially kicks off in our area this weekend. Burtonsville Milk Lady Market on Rte. 198 west of US29 and East of MD 97 opens Sunday April 13th at 10 am.

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This market, new last year, has a few of my favorite vendors and I head there occasionally to get some treats and pick up some excellent meats from Orchard Breeze.

Orchard Breeze also comes to Olney. They were there in the winter and will be back, I assume, when Olney opens on Mother’s Day.

I usually search for what is happening in the local food world here in Maryland using Maryland’s Best web site. Click on the Find Me Local tab and put in your zip code. I chose to search for Farmer’s Markets within 20 miles of my house and it came up with 45. Not 100% accurate yet for this year, but it is updated regularly.

For example, it still shows markets at Glenwood and East Columbia, both of which have been removed from the Howard County Farmer’s Market web site.

I do know there will be a new Saturday market in Ellicott City. Haven’t heard of vendors yet, although Breezy Willow did tell those of us who follow them on Facebook that they will be there.

In my spring searching for flowers, herbs and vegetables (the planting kind), I generally hit the local markets to get seedlings and small pots of plants.

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Many of my herbs came from Glenwood and East Columbia courtesy of Tomatoes Etc and Greenway Farms. They had some unique varietals that I like to plant.

The three remaining Howard County markets, Wednesday at Miller Library, Friday at HoCoGeneralHospital, and Sunday in Oakland Mills will open the first week in May.

The Wednesday morning Catonsville market opens in May also. I know Atwaters Bakery sells at that one. I call it my free parking location to pick up some of their specialties without having to feed the meters or find parking on Frederick Road at the bakery/café.

With my Friends and Farms basket, and (crossing my fingers) my CSA starting back up in May, the markets are my filler. Which means little or no shopping at grocery stores.

Eating seasonally and supporting local vendors is important to me. I find the opening of the spring markets that sure sign of the change in the weather.

There will be reports and updates as I find out more about this year’s vendors at the local markets.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Chickens …

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… in a fun tour of coop-to-coop.

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April 12th. 10 am to 2 pm. A number of Howard County chicken owners are opening their coops for the chance to meet the “girls” and see what fun chickens are. Sponsored as a free program from the Howard County Conservancy. Visit the upcoming event page to learn all about this program.

You can get a description of the tour and some information on the coops. Visit as many as you like.

I saw this great program a few years back in a blog about living in Sonoma County. Suggested the program to our friends on the committee at the Conservancy. This is the inaugural event.

There are eleven sites on the tour. Come out with us. Bring your friends. I really think this is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Updated: Because one of the links isn’t working right for everyone. Visit the Conservancy page to see about the event and get a corrected copy.


Diggin’ The Garden

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At long last, a day to get outside and start working on the gardening. But, that wind chill made it a bit hard to get lots done.

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I spent most of today out at the Community Gardens. The Food Bank plot team was preparing the double plot for spring plantings. I have started cilantro from seed, in my garage window, and will be donating some of those plants for the herb site there.

I was there today to assist in the row cover sale and orders.

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We were over in the restored Montjoy barn today. Trying to stay out of the wind. Cutting and folding row cover and selling hoops for low rows. We are going to put in one row so that is next week’s project, if we get the ground dry enough to till. I would like to start some spring plants there.

Monday I am off to Sharp’s to return the unused thin version of the row cover, and the last of the hoops. Sharp’s Waterford Farm on Jennings Chapel Road is a great supporter of local businesses and garden clubs all over the area. They open for business on April 22nd this year.

And, yes, spring is officially here. That would be evident as it was opening day at the Woodstock Snowball Stand. A little cold for snowballs, but such a welcome sight.

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So, Howard Countians. Get out there! Plant a few herbs. Take a ride and get a snowball. Spring is definitely here.


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.


Two Stop Shopping

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As I blogged yesterday, I did the weekly pick up down on Gerwig Lane for this week’s Friends and Farms basket, then I headed over to Wegmans to get those K cups, olive oil, and a few other small items.

Of course, I never get out of there without at least two bags of stuff.

Like the fixings to make a Greek salad, since we got cucumbers this week in our basket.


I have learned to put extra items on my list by signing in on Sunday night and choosing what I know we will use. This week I added extra Asian pears, cucumbers and Bibb lettuce.

Our meats this week included turkey sausage, pork butt and chicken breasts. It was an egg week, and for me, the substitute yogurt for the eggs, and the eggs for the weekly milk, rounded out my protein and dairy.

I won’t need to purchase anything else to make dinners and lunches next week.

The pork, with the sauerkraut, and the pears will make a great dinner.

We also got frozen strawberries. Right now, I am enjoying refreshing drinks made of strawberries and seltzer.

I picked one of my favorite Breadery breads. Kalamata olive and rosemary.


We also had spring mix, sweet potatoes, onions, and broccoli crowns.

Dinner tonight was inspired by those cucumbers, and the mix of lettuces.

At Wegmans, I hit the olive bar and also picked up some Campari tomatoes. I had the last of the Bowling Green Feta in the fridge, so Greek salad got made.


The tuna. Pan seared with sesame seeds and sea salt. The last pieces of the tuna we bought last month. The fingerlings. A splurge at Wegmans. Since all I have in the house are the sweet potatoes from today’s basket. Half the plate. The Greek salad. A piece of that lovely olive bread.

A glass of pinot noir. What could be better for dinner?


Seed Starting

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My DIY seed starting project.


Using egg cartons. And potting mix. In a carry around Larriland container so I can move it from east to west during the day.

I planted my seeds on the 15th of March. Today, we have sprouts.


The arugula is coming up. Soon, I will need to thin them. The scarlet emperor beans were just starting to germinate, and I had to add more potting mix to that section to keep them covered.

I also have cardoons, kale and purple tomatillos in there. When I get a few more containers, I will be starting some herbs.


We have our community garden meeting next weekend. And, we received the lists from Sharp’s Farm, who sells us “plugs”, really tiny seedlings to transplant. This is where I will get my heirloom tomatoes, my peppers, and a few exotics. I am thinking about horseradish root and rhubarb. And strawberries. The possibilities when you have more space, deer fenced and sunny, are making me anticipate spring even more.


Here’s to seed selecting and planting.



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