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Category Archives: Farms

Test Drives

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Fall. Winter. Spring. The seasons where there aren’t as many options to get local, regional, seasonal, fresh foods. The farmer’s markets, one by one, shut down in early November.

There are options out there, though. Here in Howard County, there are year round choices. Like Friends and Farms, who uses Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) foods from a New York farm to supplement those winter root veggies, and who contracts for citrus from the Southeast.

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Foods like these. Or their tomato puree. I started with Friends and Farms in January last year. Bought a four week subscription, a small basket. Now I am buying a 13 week subscription and using an individual basket to supplement my garden and my CSA.

My CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, has a seven week fall extension. The individual share is only $20 a week, for fresh organic vegetables.

Like these from last week.

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Fennel, radishes, leeks, cauliflower (white and green, the green was in the swap box), romaine, green beans, sweet peppers and red beets. Seriously. Nine organic vegetables averaging $2.20 each. You can’t come close to this pricing in any natural food store.

Other options around here. Some we tried and liked. Some we haven’t. Love Dove Farms offers an eight week fall CSA. Breezy Willow, a spring option from March until May. Zahradka Farm, delivers a winter option to your doorstep from January through April.

If you ever considered one of these for the winter, check out the links on my Local Resources page.

Or, keep your local food sources alive by hitting the weekend farm stands, or the weekend markets that are year round. The Howard County farmer’s markets may be closing soon for the season, but you still can find small farms and businesses to supply you with the best vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy.

Shopping at Jenny’s Market

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Only 17 more days until Jenny’s closes for the season. I will miss popping in there to get a few things.

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They have a facebook page, which will let you know what they are featuring. If you want some pumpkins, mums, cider, fall vegetables, or are like me, and pop in for weird things like lemons, oranges and bananas. I like that quick stop for the citrus I need in cooking without having to drive 15 miles or more round trip to a grocery store.

Today I wanted some apple cider, and bananas for breakfast, and scallions because, again, I ran out of them.

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Jenny’s sells Baughers cider from right up Rte 32 in Westminster. Half gallons and gallons.

I came home with what I needed, including a couple of oranges, to use my baby fennel from last week’s CSA basket. And, I got seduced by the huge sweet green grapes.

I will have to remember to stop in and pick up a few last things before they shut down for the season. And wish them a happy and healthy winter until they reopen in May.

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Jenny’s is right off Rte. 32 at the Burnt Woods interchange. Take the exit and head to the northeast corner on Ivory Rd. Look for the brightly colored pumpkins, gourds and mums telling us fall is truly here.

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Under the Weather

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Literally and figuratively. It is dreary and rainy, and since Tuesday I have been battling one heck of a head cold. Thankfully, even though nothing tastes very good, having that stocked freezer has made it bearable. And, kept my husband fed.

I didn’t blog about my CSA and Friends&Farms pickup very much. I really did minimal work to put it all away, and went back to my soups and my tea with honey. Local honey, even. See, you can be a locavore while sick.

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Today I feel somewhat back to normal, but the weather outside is so crummy, I just still want to hibernate and make something warm and comforting.

Best advice to those who want to minimize work while feeling awful. Freeze some soups. Those turkey drumsticks from the local farm, Maple Lawn, made the basis for one dinner and two lunches this week.

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I was originally going to pull out the cauliflower leek soup I made a while back, but, for the first time in four years, I had a Mason jar crack in the freezer. Luckily, it kept intact and was easy to dispose. I am really careful about not overfilling but this one just “popped”.

While in my clean up mode to check the baskets that hold my soups, I inadvertently left one out. A chunky tomato sauce. Found it a few hours later. It was happily defrosting, so it became chili last night.

It was that pint of sauce, a couple of peppers and onions, the last of a hanger steak made early in the week before I got this cold. I had planned to do fajitas again, but this was easy. Chopped the steak into cubes. Added it to the pot, with a can of Harris Teeters organic chili beans. Spices. I make ahead a chili fixing mix of dried spices. It simmered in a pot while I watched the news and we had another freezer-provided simple meal.

But back to the food we got Thursday that I now have to use. Having little appetite doesn’t help in the food department. Here’s how I am coping with it.

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Friends and Farms individual basket is definitely manageable. The onion went into the chili. The apples were baked (super simple, halve, core, season with butter, maple syrup and nutmeg, bake). The Asian pears are ripe enough for my husband to snack on. The rosemary, will become seasoning for some lamb tomorrow night. The green beans were steamed and eaten with dinner, the night we had some smoked kielbasa, steamed cabbage, beans, and the apples were dessert. The greens, of course, the lunch salads around here which make greens disappear quickly.

I didn’t photograph the chicken breasts or the pork chop or the half pound of smoked bacon and eggs. All put away too fast.

I now need to deal with the CSA surplus, because here is where I got more than we can use. Feeling rotten and eating just a cup of soup doesn’t put a dent in that haul.

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It may have been many baby veggies, but it was still quite a large quantity.

I am thinking of making hummus with some of those baby veggies as flavor. Eggplant and peppers. Besides that, cut, blanch and freeze the mixed sweet peppers. Roast those beets for salads. Shave fennel into salads.

I may have to cry “uncle” and give away a few items. I rarely get to that point, as we can make use of most of what we get. Being retired and having lunches and dinners home the majority of the week, that’s how we do it.

I do know that when the fall CSA ends just before Christmas, I will be very glad to have that stash in the freezer, to tide us over until the next season begins.

Fall Festivals

It’s festival season. The changing of the seasons and the leaves brings out the best of this area. The best weather and views in Howard County.

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The leaves are already starting to turn color. The month of October is full of festivals, and mazes, and pumpkin picking, and more.

My favorite, of course. The fall festival at the Howard County Conservancy.

Hay rides. Pony rides. Crafts. Animals. Story telling. Basket weaving. And so much more.

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Definitely something to do this coming Sunday.

As for other festivals. There are certainly many of them out there. Highland Days. The corn maze at Sharp’s Farm. Pumpkin picking and more at Larriland.

I am certainly looking forward to many fun days out and about. Enjoying the weather and the colorful leaves.

Stuffed Peppers

One of the first things I did with the large lovely peppers in this week’s Friends and Farms basket. I decided to wait a few days and show what I made, using what we get in our weekly selection.

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What it looked like going into the oven.

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My half, at lunch today.

I had made chicken with rice the other night. Had some rice with mushrooms left over. Had some leftover beef short ribs with greens, red pepper and onions, too. Mixed it all together and stuffed the largest pepper. Not your traditional sausage stuffing, but it still came out very tasty.

As for the rest of this week’s food, here is the compilation, and where it is going, or has gone.

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Starting with protein and dairy. The yogurt has been opened and used to make honey mustard dressing. The eggs, already in a five egg frittata yesterday. It was served with dinner last night, half of it. The other half is Monday’s lunch. Spare ribs will probably be tomorrow’s dinner. Sausage in the freezer until I need it for a pasta dish on Wednesday or Thursday.

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The rest of our individual share. Heirloom tomatoes from southern Maryland. A couple of honeycrisp apples from Bear Mountain Orchards. Spinach. Hydroponic spring mix from Baywater Greens. A red onion. Baby bok choy. And two green peppers. One the star of today’s lunch.

Tomatoes are almost gone. They were served with a black bean soup I made overnight in the crock pot. The bok choy will go into a chicken stir fry. I am thinking of making creamed spinach using yogurt one night. Spring mix and red onion definitely salad material.

Apples are already eaten. It won’t be long before all this good food is prepared and served. I need to run up to check on the slow roasting mixed peppers that will be vacuum sealed and saved for chili this winter. That other green pepper ended up on the baking sheet, with those sweet and hot peppers from the CSA.

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Tidbit Tuesday Again

Lots of random small talk today.

How about housekeeping? As in cleaning out the garden, getting ready for fall, and cleaning up my web pages.

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The Malabar spinach is going to seed. The big question is whether I will save seeds and replant in the spring. I didn’t use much of it. It did act as a very strong pollinator attracter though. Well, so did the basil.

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I imagine that the Conservancy bees got lots of pollen from the basil in the garden. Some days it was covered in honey bees.

Sometime this weekend I will be harvesting all the basil and there will be a pesto making marathon in my kitchen. I hit Whole Foods Sunday morning to get almonds and Parmigiano Reggiano for my pesto. Go early before the breakfast crowd shows up.

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It is almost time to plant the garlic. I have about two dozen cloves ready to go into my back yard garden. Once the trees start dropping leaves, they will get enough sun all winter and spring to grow and be harvested in early summer.

We are completely reconfiguring the Conservancy community garden plot. There will be four large squares instead of four rows. One for herbs. One for tomatoes. One for peppers, leeks, shallots and onions. And, one for everything else. I did plant some arugula and lettuce for fall. We learned quite a bit this year.

Keep the onions away from the corner where the hoses are. The excess water rotted a few of my onions.

Put paths around the outside. It keeps down on weed infiltration.

More on gardening in the near future. Let’s now turn to the other trivial things I have done. I updated a few items on my pages. Adding a couple of blogs I read. Making sure the farm page is up to date. Checking that I didn’t forget anything on my food preservation page. I still need to update my local resources, and to add my new page, still in draft, on HOCOBIZ. This will be my page that highlights small businesses in the area where I find really good service. These businesses are mostly family owned, but aren’t my food sources. Places like Kendalls, Clarks Hardware, British American. Oh, and restaurants. I will be putting a restaurant category on that page.

Yep, it’s time to do that fall cleaning. Like leaf raking. And weed removal. And, putting those wintery things in the cars. Where are those stupid ice scrapers anyway? Just hoping not to find too many days like this.

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In The Box

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The view from above.

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This is what you see when you open a half share Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA box in the middle of August.

The new one in the box is the bunch of Malabar spinach. I do grow this in my garden, but mine is nowhere near as large as these are. There are nine ears of corn in there. Because I swapped three zucchini for the corn. There is a bag of green beans. A bag of rainbow carrots. An eggplant. And, hidden below those two heirloom tomatoes.

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A bag of roma tomatoes, suitable for making sauce. As for the fruit share.

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It must be a banner year for peaches, as we have another six in the fruit box. Last and certainly the largest. The watermelon, a red seedless variety.

No pictures of the frozen chicken in my chicken share. There were two large boneless skinless chicken breasts. And, two whole legs of chicken.

Moving over to the Friends and Farms bags. Just a small amount, except for that cantaloupe.

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An individual share. Two tomatoes. Two peaches (I have no idea where they are, they aren’t in the picture). One zucchini, I am happy to report. Two ears of corn. Three humongous leeks. Hydroponic lettuce. And that okra. I need to go look for something new to do with okra.

Protein.

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Fresh kielbasa. Bacon. Eggs. A new supplier of chicken. Breasts this week. They were already the main item at dinner tonight. Baked in olive oil with a coating of mixed herbs.

Plans for tomorrow. Make tomato sauce. Find a recipe for a curry using the Malabar spinach. Make peach jam. It’s summer craziness when everything starts ripening at once.

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