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Category Archives: Farms

Synergy

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I love it when a plan comes together.

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The chili is bubbling away in the crockpot. It will be used for dinner tomorrow. Nachos on Sunday. Maybe a lunch if there’s enough.

My two major food sources cooperated to give me almost all the basic ingredients to make a turkey chili. They also support a few other meals by combinations. Greater than the sum of their parts.

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Friends and Farms gave us ground turkey this week. This is the protein component of our basket. Besides that turkey, the eggs and bacon will show up in many places. Breakfast Sunday. A frittata next week. And, those pork chops. Will combine with the leftover half of my sauerkraut from last week’s Lancaster Farm Fresh share. Browned, then baked over the kraut, with a couple of sliced apples and some of that lovely apple cider. I am enjoying that cider. It has been used in many pork dishes. Used to make one awesome honey mustard dressing. I like getting it biweekly. It works in so many ways as a liquid base for meals.

The rest of the Friends and Farms basket.

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Pea shoots. Collard greens. Red onions. Garlic. Apples. Grapefruit from Florida. Shiitake mushrooms. Green peppers. Raw peanuts. Cheddar parmesan bread.

Turn to my winter CSA share from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Picked up right before heading out to Friends and Farms.

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Yellow onions. Rainbow carrots. Red beets. Portabella mushrooms. Popcorn. Yukon gold potatoes (squared – I traded Rose radishes). Cheddar cheese. Ground beef. Maple syrup.

Think about that chili. Ground turkey. Yellow onions. Green peppers. Garlic. Pull out a few jars from the freezer of tomatoes. A few cans of beans.

Super Bowl Sunday. I am thinking popcorn, peanuts and maple syrup. Close to Cracker Jacks maybe?

Two kinds of mushrooms here. Thinking mushroom soup.

Grapefruit. Beets. Red onions. There will be a salad in our future.

Meal planning made fun and easy when you get locally sourced fresh foods every week. Winter? Who cares? This is really good stuff. Without traveling down to DC to find it.

Evolution

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Or, how the farming communities have changed their models to reflect their customers’ desires. It used to be the case that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs used one or two farms that pre-sold their crops. Buy in before the season started and reap the bounty of what was grown. Not much in the way of options, and very risky in bad weather years.

These days, things have changed. The models keep evolving. There are cooperatives. Home deliveries. Buying services. All sorts of sizes, add ons, payment plans and expansion of the definition of local.

Here in Howard County we have many choices in the winter. For us, finally, we got our winter CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. The Coop has over 100 farmers in it now. And, they have expanded their options, offering packages and add ons. Today was our first pick up. What do you get in the winter?

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White mushrooms – Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms
Covington sweet potatoes – LFFC
Mixed winter radishes – Spring Valley Organics
Sunchokes – Lee’s Organics
Orange carrots – Rising Sun Organics
Parsnips – Rising Sun Organics

All of us who bought vegetable shares got these in our box. Some of us chose an omnivore package, with three add ons. Others may have chosen a Vegan package, which had tofu instead of chicken. They got bread, instead of cheese.

We got:

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Sauerkraut. Colby. Chicken breasts. I love the message on the sauerkraut.

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As for the other half of our winter food source, we still love Friends and Farms. Today is our one year anniversary of buying from them.

What is interesting today? The carrots in our Friends and Farms basket come from Lancaster Farm Fresh Wholesale. Many of the produce items come from the same cooperative that supplies our CSA.

As I said above, the evolution in provision of fresh local and seasonal foods has brought us many good choices. There is definitely a program and a package that fits a person or a couple or a family, a package that replaces mass market grocery store food.

Today, our small basket from Friends and Farms included the following.

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This was in our insulated bag. Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) green beans. Chuck roast. Eggs. Chevre. Cod. Ground beef. The ground beef was our chosen substitute for bread. The eggs. Our substitute for milk. What I love most about them is their flexibility to tailor your basket to your preferences.

For us, all the protein we need for a week comes in this basket, and in our CSA.

The rest of our vegetables?

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Sweet potatoes. Carrots. Thyme. Apples. Hydroponic romaine. Kale.

There are other winter options for food around here. Zahradka Farm delivers weekly. So does South Mountain Creamery. They both let you tailor your deliveries to include your preferences. This is so different from the days of rigid “Take it or leave it” CSAs.

Come March, add the early bird Breezy Willow to the choices.

We really are lucky. We can have fresh regional foods (mostly from a 150 mile radius). You can’t beat fresh produce. Way better than those cardboard tomatoes in the stores.

Tonight?

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I pan fried one of those cod fillets in some browned butter. Seasoned with bread crumbs and paprika. Served with those IQF green beans and a sweet potato.

The Counter

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At the Columbia Whole Foods. Diner not in the classic sense, but still a place with really interesting and satisfying diner food.

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Fries anyone? How about chickpea fries with truffle salt?

We were lucky enough last night to attend a media event that kicked off the new menu at the Counter, the instore diner at our local Whole Foods. For me, finding places that aren’t chains, that showcase local, seasonal, organic and/or sustainable ingredients is a priority. Having this counter as a choice now when I’m in Columbia and need a quick delicious meal is exciting.

The thing I do like most about this diner option is the juxtaposition of healthier choices with some favorite comfort foods, and standbys that will tempt the omnivore, vegetarian, paleo, vegan, or gluten free person who may be looking to eat out together without compromising.

Like Southern food?

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Chicken with a biscuit and sausage gravy. This was one of my favorite dishes last night. Good for breakfast or lunch.

Nodding to a love of kielbasa, and making a breakfast sandwich my husband really liked.

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Their breakfast menu has all sorts of options. A scramble that uses tofu. Wheatless pancakes.

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We got to sample many of the items from both menus last night. My favorites were the chicken and gravy, and the burger made with a short rib blend, the cacioepepe, and that kielbasa sandwich. I have to admit there were two that weren’t my cup of tea, so to speak. The curry dish just a tad too spicy. The avocado taco. It was OK but just a bit bland to me. Weird, how my tastes are somewhere in the range of spicy but not too spicy.

I have to stop in and try some things that look good but we didn’t sample. Like the falafelsammie and the crabcake (not the vegan “crab” cake). As a Baltimore born and raised lover of crabs, I have to see how this version stacks up to my all time favorites.

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Thanks to Chef Michael and his team for putting out great tasting fresh food. Thanks too to Mia the marketing team leader who put together this event.

As one of the local bloggers whose focus is on small businesses, local foods, organic foods and eating seasonally, I am pleased to see how Whole Foods is becoming integrated into our community. Many of the farms where I purchase cheeses, meats, produce and a few of the small specialty businesses are featured here at Whole Foods.

Check out their Maryland food vendor page for a list of those who supply the Columbia store. Many of them are on my local resources list, and I am discovering new ones all the time like Koinonia and Homestead.

So, try out the Counter someday. Like maybe a Sunday where another local blogger, Bill Santos, has a weekly get together for coffee and conversation. One of those biscuits would be great while discussing the latest goings on in Columbia.

Third Time Lucky

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With a winter CSA. We finally got enough participants to create a winter pick up spot for a 13 week Community Supported Agriculture program from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

For those of us who like that weekly infusion of a surprise basket of vegetables, getting this off the ground meant quite a bit to us. I chose what is called an “Omnivore Package”. 5-8 vegetables. One pound of meat. One half pound of cheese. One pantry item. Every week. We may get bison. We will get raw milk or aged goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses. We will get staples for our kitchen, like honey or maple syrup or horseradish. All from right up the highway in Lancaster County.

They changed our pick up from Thursdays to Wednesdays. I like that too. Gives me more time to get things done before the weekend comes. Then, we can easily heat up and eat, with a good made from scratch meal.

During this four week hiatus from the CSA I have been cleaning out some items from the freezer. Like all the chicken wings we got last fall.

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Perfect for a play off game day. Covered in raspberry jam, sriracha, honey, onions and garlic.

Or my meat loaf.

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Made with a half pound of hamburger meat and a half pound of pork sausage. A couple of eggs. Bread crumbs. Onions. Salt. Pepper. Drizzled in ketchup. Do you remember your mom making meat loaf? Didn’t you love it? Leftovers made great sandwiches.

I have also been making chicken salad from the chicken breasts. Egg salad from my Friends and Farms eggs. Some days I do feel like we have regressed into that world from my childhood, with all our food made from scratch.

Can’t wait to see what we get next week. Between Lancaster Farm Fresh and Friends and Farms, I don’t need markets or grocery stores this winter. Well, except when we run out of toilet paper.

Fresh From the Farms

To the table.

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The Friends and Farms delivery today. Right from the basket to the table. With minimal work. Salmon. Green beans. Lettuce. Tomatoes. All from today’s pick up.

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We had salmon, filet mignon, and sausage as protein. It was an egg week for me. I did buy extra filets and salmon. The prices are incredible. We got cranberries, tomatoes, hydroponic greens, an acorn squash, a red onion and quick frozen green beans.

I haven’t posted my baskets for a few weeks. Too busy getting ready for Christmas. But Friends and Farms does continue to provide us with quality foods at way less than other stores. Example, today. That salmon was less than $11 a pound. The filets. A dollar an ounce. Two six ounce filets. $12.

Compare that to the $22-$25 you would be charged at any of the grocery stores in the area. Many of us were buying extra filets. There will be filet on the table for New Year’s Eve. A simple saut√© followed by a steaming in a red wine and butter sauce.

And, no, I haven’t forgotten about making a #hocobiz page. I am almost ready to launch. Who knew how many businesses we used in the area that were family owned?

As for right now, we are enjoying the quality product that Friends and Farms gives us weekly.

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.

Local Butchers

It’s almost the holidays. For us that means celebration food. Like crown roasts. Osso Buco. Tenderloin for my birthday and maybe New Year’s Eve.

As far as I know, there is only one butcher left in Howard County. Boarman’s. We get so many special orders there. Like the osso buco.

Not too far away we do have lots of choices.

Mt. Airy. Wagner’s.

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Oella. JW Treuth’s. They did change hands recently but the quality is still there. They were a major source for our Zahradka winter CSA a few years back.

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Northern PG County in Laurel. Laurel Meat Market and Beiler’s in the Amish market on Rte. 198.

I have tried all but Laurel Meat Market. I should try them as Howchow loves them, and I respect his opinion.

If you want to buy small business and local for your main course at any holiday meal, you can’t go wrong with these choices. I mean, how good looking is this?

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