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Category Archives: Farms

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.

Food Processing Friday …

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… and Saturday and Sunday.

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As shown we are drowning in tomatoes. And, other things. Which are “pickle-able”.

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I pickled shallots, cucumbers and peppers today. Did Peter Pecker pick those peppers? No, and neither did I. They were in the CSA share this week.

I made a simple pickling spice mix. Added it to a mix of four to one, vinegar to water. Got it boiling. Blanched the veggies first. Sterilized the lids and seals. Came up with a few jars of “refrigerator’ pickles. These are easy to do. No canning techniques necessary. Just consume them in a week or two.

As for tomatoes. I did two pints of sauce today.

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This is a chunky tomato sauce. A number of blanched tomatoes stood by while I sweated onions, carrots, minced garlic, basil, thyme and oregano. Oh yeah. Salt and pepper.

I ended up with two pints ready to go into the freezer, to make those cold winter nights remind me of summer.

More tomorrow, when I blanch and fill green peppers with a sausage mixture. A feast that makes Stouffer’s look pathetic.

The freezer is filling up. That’s for sure.

My Out of Control Kitchen

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It happens every August. The tomatoes get way ahead of me. I can’t keep up with the processing. I have to dedicate an entire weekend to plowing through the produce and filling the freezer.

Add to it the CSA glut.

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For $19 a week you too can be overrun with fresh beautiful vegetables. OK, so there are also some fruit shares here. They are a slight additional cost.

Lancaster Farm Fresh delivered some pretty heavy boxes this week. We got:

FIVE zucchini (seriously? in a half share?)
A bag full of baby sweet peppers
A bag full of hot Hungarian wax peppers (not pictured, more below)
A bag full of baby eggplants
Two heirloom tomatoes
Three slicing tomatoes
Four golden beets with greens
Two heads of garlic

The sugar baby watermelon was part of our fruit share. Along with more of these.

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Eight more incredibly juicy luscious sweet peaches.

I swapped those peppers. For a reason to be revealed later.

I did get this.

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Three ears of sweet corn from the swap box. You can never have too much sweet corn.

My chicken share this week was a 3.5 pound heritage bird.

As for Friends and Farms, I am glad we moved to an individual share for the summer. That way we aren’t completely overwhelmed with produce.

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This was bread and cheese week for the individual share. I picked pumpkin pecan bread from the Breadery. Ewe cream cheese from Shepherds Manor.

Spring Mix. Donut peaches. Nectarines. Sweet potatoes. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. A yellow onion. Green beans. An eggplant.

As for the protein, not pictured, we got catfish, and sirloin steak.

Definitely enough to keep us from the grocery stores for a while.

I just need to get out there and start freezing food.

Blue Ribbon Herbs

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My second blue ribbon ever.

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Again for my herbs.

I have lots more from the fair, but this year again my herbs were the star of my entries. Again, my heirlooms fell short, but I did get three more fourth place ribbons and a fifth place ribbon.

My favorite:

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Fifth place for my ornamental vegetable display. This is the first time I did an ornamental display. I am learning from the other participants how to arrange what I submit. I was pleased to get the ribbon though.

As for the fourth places, they included:

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My yellow plum tomatoes.

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My yellow onions.

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And for most unusual vegetable. My cardoons.

I’m happy. I did twelve entries and won five ribbons. Not a bad return on investment, so to speak.

I love participating in the county fair. It’s small enough to not be intimidating, but large enough to have some serious competition. The people are really nice and help us newer entrants.

If I could only get my heirloom tomatoes to ripen in time, I would be ecstatic.

We will be at the fair at least four days, maybe five. We love to watch the 4-H’ers show their animals.

We visited our friends in the barn, and checked out some of their daughter’s animals. Like her lambs.

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All decked out to keep nice and clean before they are shown.

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And, some of their goats.

Tomorrow we will go and visit, seeing how their pigs are doing. They weren’t there yet, yesterday. I am so impressed with the dedication of the 4-H’ers to their animals.

To us. the fair isn’t about the midway and the rides, it’s about the community.

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