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Category Archives: Farms

Can’t “Beet” That Berry Salad

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A repeat for lunch today, with a few enhancements.

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Looks just like Saturday, doesn’t it? Except I kicked it up a bit. Made my own dressing.

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Jam jar dressing using locally produced items. Two tsp. of raspberry jelly. Two tbsp. plain yogurt. Splash of white balsamic vinegar. Two tbsp. olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of demerara sugar.

I used the Secolari brand oil and vinegar today. They are a family owned business located in Columbia Mall, and their original store in Bethesda.

This is “local” olive oil, so to speak. Only two states I know grow olives to make olive oil. California and Texas. This oil is from California.

The salad was made with the Baywater Greens Salisbury MD leaf lettuce. The raw milk gouda from PA. Chiogga and red beets from the Amish farms. Blackberries from Agriberry. Blueberries from PA. Walnuts not local. Bought in bulk at Wegmans.

Eating locally for lunch today, and again for dinner. I slow cooked some Wayne Nell pork. Made pulled pork sandwiches before heading out to Iron Bridge for a tasting. Served with a side of roasted vegetables from my garden.

Last night we went to Bistro Blanc for a “bottle Share” night. Had a few local items in that meal, too. They buy their beef locally and we had a very nice Angus tartare. And we took a local wine.

Brunch yesterday was an omelet with Miller Farm eggs. My tomatoes. My onions and shallots and leeks.

Breakfast today included those lovely berries with cereal.

I am doing well on the Buy Local Challenge.

Tomorrow I am making pesto with my basil. Some of it will make it into dinner, that’s for sure.

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Three days down. Six to go.

Extreme #buylocalchallenge

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As is eating something local at every meal. Easy to do if most of your food comes from a CSA, a regional food service, and your garden.

I count my garden as supporting local farmers as most of the plants were purchased from local farms. I don’t buy plants from national chains like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but from local farms like Sharp’s or Greenway. Both Howard County farms.

Today was the first day of the challenge. Breakfast included toast with CSA raspberry jam, for me. And for my husband, cereal with CSA blueberries.

Lunch for him. Tuna salad with my onions. For me, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, dipped in a yogurt dressing. Yogurt from PA. Cucumbers and tomatoes, my garden. Carrots, CSA.

Peaches from the CSA for a snack.

Dinner tonight.

Local wine!

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Big Cork, from Rohrersville MD. Ready to go to the table with some of my flowers from my front yard.

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CSA chicken thighs being baked with CSA potatoes, my onions and Wayne Nell smoked bacon (Friends and Farms supplier from York PA). They buy from farms in the area surrounding York.

The salad.

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Baywater Greens from Salisbury supplied the leaf lettuce. CSA spinach, beets, gouda, blueberries.

Oh, I forgot, there was corn on the cob, too. From the CSA.

Very little today that didn’t come locally. Off to a good start. On to Day Two tomorrow.

Friends and Farms “Buy Local”

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We got our Friends and Farms basket Thursday, just in time for the Buy Local Challenge.

I am happy to see at the Buy Local Website that they don’t require the farms and markets to be in Maryland. Just “local”.

Depending on where you live, food from across a state line may be more local than in state. Like for us. Cheese from Lancaster is closer than cheese from Firefly Farms in western MD. Not that we don’t love Firefly. It’s just that MD is a wide east west but narrow north south state.

For us, foods from MD, VA, WV, DE and PA are all considered local. Mostly within a 100 mile radius to our home.

Our Friends and Farms basket this week was full of local foods by that definition. We can take the Buy Local “Extreme” challenge and include local foods in every meal, using the goodness of our basket.

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The pork butt and bacon came from York PA. The chicken from Freebird, in the Lancaster area of PA. The eggs, from MD.

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Clinton MD. We also get some vegetables from Miller Farms too.

This week the lettuce was from Salisbury MD. That’s where Baywater Greens is located.

The berries, from VA. Agriberry blackberries.

We also got jalapenos. Cilantro. Sweet corn. Green peppers. An eggplant. Elephant garlic.

I added a quart of plain yogurt. Need to make tzatziki while the cucumbers are still producing.

It will be easy to eat locally with all this food. Along with my garden and my CSA. Who needs grocery stores? Oh yeah, toilet paper.

Taking the Buy Local Challenge

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For the third year in a row. The MD Buy Local Challenge. Dates are July 19-27.

This year I almost forgot about it until I received the reminder email. Since most of our food is local or regional, we already eat at least one item every day that comes from our Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, our Friends and Farms basket, a local market or farm, or my garden.

If you wanted to join in, it is easy to do. You don’t even have to cook. Buy some fruit.

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Peaches and blueberries are definitely in season. Or how about watermelon, or cantaloupe? Blackberries?

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Seriously. Take a trip to Larriland and pick fruit, maybe take home some tomatoes.

Hit the farmers market in Ellicott City Sunday. Some Breezy Willow eggs. Cheese from Shepherd’s Manor. Meat from Orchard Breeze.

The list goes on. If you want sungold tomatoes, check out Love Dove at the Miller Library or HoCo General Hospital market.

Or, any of the Howard County markets. And, don’t forget wine counts too. Black Ankle maybe> Or Elk Run? Or Big Cork?

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Are you in?

#hocofood

Lock Those Car Doors!

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It’s zucchini season.

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You must act now to keep gardeners from leaving zucchini in the back seat of your car! I swear you can watch them grow.

We got zucchini today from three sources. In the CSA. In the Friends and Farms basket. And from my garden. Bread is in the future. Chocolate zucchini bread, that is.

A quick look at what we got from our local and regional sources for food.

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Friends and Farms gave us heirloom zucchini, tomatoes, a cucumber, white potatoes, green bell peppers, leaf lettuce and scallions. The fruit was a pint of blueberries. I picked white bread this week. Eggs. Swordfish. Beef kabob cubes. This is an individual basket. Just the right size for a couple who have a garden, and a CSA subscription.

The greens are already gone. They were in tonight’s salad.

As for Lancaster Farm Fresh and our half share CSA.

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Eight items in the vegetable share. Two pints of organic blueberries in the fruit share. Three lovely cheeses. Chicken share a mix of boneless skinless breast meat and whole legs.

The veggie share. Eight ball zucchini. Green cabbage. Peas in the shell. Green beans. Pickling cukes. One large slicing cucumber. New red potatoes. And heirloom spinach (which was supposed to be kale, but I swapped).

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Gouda, cheddar and bleu cheese. Every month a threesome of interesting fresh, mostly raw milk cheeses.

I don’t need grocery stores. I have it all in our “grand slam”. CSA. Friends and Farms. Our garden. Jenny’s market. Where today I picked up oranges to make my fennel salad. A few grapes and plums for my husband’s fruit fix.

Here’s to eating what is freshest and from small local sources. And, that garden thing.

Zucchini anyone? I can deliver.

hocofood@@@

Inner Beauty

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Growing your own food you quickly realize that ugly food is the norm when you have Mother Nature and a host of insects and small critters feasting when you aren’t looking.

I have gotten used to cutting out nibble marks in cucumbers. Ignoring the stink bug marks on tomatoes. And, reconciling myself to holes in the greens.

Still, I am always amazed when someone rejects great tasting food, fresh and just from the ground, because of imperfections on the surface.

In the past year or so, I have encountered this aversion to ugly food at farmer’s markets. Larriland. Food bank gardens. My mother (yes, mom, who didn’t like the dark spots in my potatoes).

I think too many people have become so enamored of those waxed vegetables in the supermarket. The blemish free fruit. They surely realize, I hope, that they drive up the cost of food.

Take tomatoes, for example.

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Heirlooms can be really ugly. But they have incredible taste. They will split, look deformed, and pretty much become the ugly ducklings on the farm stands. Last summer, we picked some beautiful heirlooms one Sunday morning volunteering at the Community Action Council’s garden. Many were rejected as being not good enough in appearance to take to the Food Bank. We were offered those tomatoes to take home with us or they would go into the trash piles. To me, throwing away good food is a crime, but since I grow my own and get lots of other varieties from my CSA, I didn’t need to take more on.

A few volunteers did take them to make tomato sauce. Who cares if they are split if you are going to simmer them down to yumminess.

I thought also about those gorgeous red fig tomatoes I grew a few years back. Grown at the historical gardens at the Conservancy. I bought a few plants at their plant sale to put in my own garden. Loved them.

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The Food Bank said they weren’t popular. They were discontinued in the garden in 2013. These little gems were so sweet, so concentrated, but they aren’t familiar so they weren’t taken.

As for Larriland, I can’t believe the amount of food that is left on the ground. Mostly because it was picked but not perfect, so it was tossed. Berries. Tomatoes. Peaches. Apples. The list goes on.

No, I am not talking about fruit that falls off the vines and the trees. You can’t help but see people in the row across from you, picking things and dropping them because they have flaws. Or, aren’t ripe yet. The waste of food boggles my mind sometimes.

With strawberries, the imperfect ones still go in my basket if I picked them. They become the basis for my strawberry ice cubes. Cutting the blemishes out. If you grew them yourself, you would use them. I can’t get past this obsession for flawless food. No wonder prices keep rising.

I know I don’t hold the same views as people who believe it must be perfect if they are paying for it. At least these days those less than perfect items get used for the soup or salad bars, or in any of those prepared foods on those food bars in places like Wegmans. There you can pay $8 a pound for veggies and fruit that would have cost $2 or $3 a pound if you bought them raw.

Unfortunately our farmers at the markets don’t have that luxury, as foods that aren’t bought become feed for their animals, or hit the compost pile.

As for those potatoes my mother didn’t like. They had small blemishes on the surface that translated into dark spots inside. You had to cut them out. The potatoes. Heirlooms. Blue or purple or pink. With amazing flavor. Just ugly.

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Do me a favor. Buy some ugly duckling items at the bargain prices the farmers charge at the markets. Give them some love and a little time. The freshness of the product is worth the small loss of a fraction of an ounce for cutting out the blemished spots.

#hocofood

A Decade of Summers

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Our tenth summer here. Time flies. The trees are much larger. The bushes growing together. It is even more private than when we arrived. Not quite as quiet, though. More development brought more traffic.

But still, summer out here is lived outdoors. Either mowing or weeding or trimming or harvesting or eating or drinking or whatever. I spend so much time outdoors. Watching the animals. The birds. The snakes. Yes, the snakes. Life in the country is always an adventure.

We also eat more meals at home. Shop closer to home. I almost titled this post, summer salad days, because we have transitioned into the summer routine of salads for lunch, and a big component of dinner.

It’s too hot some days to cook. Or, our appetites are affected by the heat.

We stopped up at the garden after dinner at Iron Bridge tonight. Tried to decide if we wanted to stand in that long line at the Woodstock snowball stand. Decided instead to come home for leftover crumble with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

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Blueberry season opens this weekend at Larriland. I never went to Larriland when we lived in Columbia. Now, it’s a couple of times a month. Peaches and blackberries after the blueberries.

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Getting ready for field day this weekend with the radio club. Hoping we don’t get storms.

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Tomorrow I need to go and vote. Thursday is Fiddlers and Fireflies, a summer staple in this part of the county, out at the Conservancy. Things don’t always slow down around here when it’s warm.

Here’s to summertime. Officially here last weekend. To lazy days with minimal fuss.

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To that perfect Caprese salad.

To Life in the Slow Lane.

#hocoblogs

Farm Fresh Feasts

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A great name that sums up my way of cooking. And, the name of the blog of one of my CSA “internet buddies”. We connected on line while commenting on CSA links at In Her Chucks. A blog that is inactive at this time. But, we still read each other’s blog, and make great foods using each other’s recipes. Trust me. She has the most amazing pizza page.

Kirsten stopped at Larriland a few days back, to pick up strawberries. Based on my recommendation of the place. And she made strawberry salsa. Really! I need to make this salsa. It looks like just what we need around here. More homemade salsa.

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Today I got about a quart out at the community gardens. I worked my garden and picked a bit from a released garden, at the suggestion of our managers, to not let good fruit go to waste. Today was Food Bank day and we harvested and donated 35 pounds of food to Howard County. I was picking kale and chard and chives.

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After that, I remembered we needed to pick those very ripe berries from the abandoned plot. Along with pulling out lots of weeds while up there. Now, I have almost enough to make that salsa.

As for farm fresh feasts, here is what you can make from those lovely fresh strawberries.

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Salad with goat cheese and balsamic glaze.

Farm fresh feasts. The best way to eat.

#hocofood

Fresh Food Overload

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As in too many sources of what came into the house today.

Friends and Farms. Lancaster Farm Fresh. Foraged asparagus. Harvested spring garlic and garlic scapes.

Is it any wonder I get overwhelmed. At least I didn’t pick veggies at Larriland today.

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Scapes and spring garlic. Let’s start with the back yard. I have 18 plants out there. Two, I found to be waterlogged and a loss. Four I harvested today. They were too small to become heads of garlic. Hence, spring garlic. With a couple of scapes in the mix.

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Asparagus. A couple more spears of my wild asparagus. There are two more ready to be harvested in a day or two. Not bad, but this year much less than previous years.

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Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA. This is week three of the spring/summer CSA. I have a half share. Today eight items plus my weekly chicken share.

We got:

Salanova lettuce
Kale
Garlic Scapes
Frisee
Strawberries
Scallions
Red leaf lettuce
Yellow chard

A whole chicken this week. A Freedom Ranger heritage chicken.

The chard already made it into tonight’s frittata.

As for Friends and Farms.

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This week was my eggs and yogurt week in the rotation. Proteins included chicken breast and a pork chop (destined to become an Asian element of a stir fry).

Green cabbage and carrots. There will be cole slaw.

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That’s because we had a pork butt a few weeks back that is happily becoming pulled pork compliments of 100 days.

The rest of the basket included Asian greens, broccoli, scallions, hydroponic tomatoes, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

I like getting small amounts of varied vegetables.

This method of shopping has been interesting, and a challenge to boot. Some days the large amount of greens is intimidating but it’s good for us.

#hocofood

Strawberry Fields

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I can’t resist Larriland for strawberries.

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This year the fields are south of the main farm. The price went up. $2.75 and $2.25, up 16 cents from last year. We only picked 14 pounds this year. Well. at least so far this year. I might go out again later this month.

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Here’s to the first strawberry margarita of the season. One part Triple Sec. Two parts tequila. Six parts strawberry syrup, made using pure cane sugar to taste, and a couple of limes squeezed in. A handful of crushed ice. Blend. Enjoy with the salsa from the Ellicott City Market.

The rest of that juice.

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Poured in ice cube trays. Resting in the freezer as we speak. These cubes go into many things. Once they have frozen, I put them in a container in the freezer. Pop one in a glass of iced tea, or lemonade. Or make a sangria. Or, melt one to make a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. I am just finishing up last year’s stash.

The best berries.

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Washed, stemmed, dusted with sugar. Frozen until solid. Packed away to come out in cold months. Defrost and make your own strawberry yogurt.

And, it figures. Saturday we saw we are getting strawberries from Friends and Farms. Today, our Lancaster Farm Fresh newsletter predicts strawberries, too.

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There can never be too many strawberries.

#hocofood

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