RSS Feed

Category Archives: Howard County

Don’t Miss

Posted on

At the Howard County Fair starting Saturday. Some new things. Old things. Every year it keeps getting bigger and better, yet the favorites still remain.

Like the Critter Barn.

hoco fair opening day 004

Or the daily pig races. Every day. Check out the events highlights here.

We like wandering around the barns looking at the animals.

fair ribbons 016

This year there’s a new addition to the fair. A beer garden. Thanks to Howard County’s home grown brewery. Manor Hill. They will be located at the rear of the main exhibition hall.

There’s a few more special events this year too. And old favorites that must be done. Like getting fresh squeezed lemonade. Or a soft serve cone.

For us we also love wandering the home arts building looking at the photographs. The farm and garden building, including buying our supply of honey from the beekeepers.

On our way out, we will get peaches from the farm stand, and Bowling Green cheese.

Our future farmers spend the week there. It’s a labor of love. Come support them.

This sums it up quite well.

hoco fair opening day 012

Fair Weather

Posted on

Today let’s talk about the weather. The weather that impacts gardeners and farmers. The weather that influences what we harvest. And whether, for me, it’s good enough to give me flavorful heirloom tomatoes.

Growing these tomatoes was on my bucket list. My 50 things I wanted to do before I die. Back 12 years ago when I turned 50 I wrote that list. Before we bought this house in the country. Before I ever tilled and weeded and suffered through our awful summers.

This year our county fair is a week later than the past. Giving me more time to get those heirlooms ripe. Except all that rain has made them a mess.

csa and veggies 023

They are cracked. They aren’t as full of flavor. Still, I try and pick the best ones to submit.

Submissions are due by Saturday morning, although I try to get mine in on Friday night. Today, I harvested all my leeks. I picked one of my unusual vegetables, hoping I may get a better one Thursday. I still haven’t chosen my herbs.

If you have never made it to the county fair, you really ought to come out.

fair ribbons 024

Come see what our traffic jams look like. Ride a few rides. Have some unhealthy foods. The fair runs from Saturday to Saturday. We like heading over there early before the crowds. And we buy a season pass.

See you at the fair?

Fair Trade

Posted on

Getting ready for the county fair. The next few posts will highlight things that we are interested in doing, and show some of the preparations that I make in order to enter items for ribbons.

This year, I am literally drowning in heirloom tomatoes, compared to previous years. Unfortunately many of them will be past their prime on submission days. Still, I found a solution to my problem.

Thanks to Bistro Blanc.

tomato harvest and glen manor 017

What does ginger beer and peaches have to do with the fair? Not much, but we were drinking a peach ginger mule at the bar Friday night when Chef Janny came out to visit with a few regulars. It was past prime dining time, so he was done service.

I mentioned to him that I had an overabundance of herbs and veggies. In the past, I had given Chef Marc some of my rosemary and basil, when I was deluged with them.

We made a simple deal. I would bring him what I had available. We would work out a “trade”.

That’s how I became a local supplier to a local restaurant.

tomato harvest and glen manor 003

Here’s some of the vegetables I put together. The hot peppers. I have a serious overabundance of them. I did keep back six that are almost all perfectly straight and uniform in size. Hopefully they will hang in there to be submitted as fair entries.

Shallots. Lots and lots of shallots. I have all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Heirlooms. In the above picture, there are Black Prince, Amana Orange, Abe Lincoln, German Johnson, Goliath and Box Car Willie. I am doing the taste testing to determine which ones would do best at the fair. I still can’t decide, and there are dozens of them on the vine up at the garden.

Not shown in my pictures are my lavender, chives and basil. Or a container full of teeny cherry tomatoes.

Next weekend after my submissions, I will probably deliver another batch. So, if you eat at Bistro Blanc, you may be getting “farm to table” from my little part of the world.

As for that lovely drink up there, it’s simple. Get a bottle of ginger beer. A lime. A peach. Some ice. Good vodka. I used Absolut. Muddle the peach, after removing the skin and pit. If it isn’t really sweet (ours was), add a pinch of sugar. Pour in 1/2 cup of vodka, crushed ice, juice of the lime. Divide between two glasses and pour the bottle of ginger beer into the glasses, evenly dividing it.

I found Crabbie’s up at Old Tyme Liquor. It can be used to make Dark and Stormies, if you have dark rum. What is it about summertime and cocktails?

HALO

Posted on

The Howard Astronomical League Observatory. Officially opened last night at Alpha Ridge.

star party 040

The long awaited observatory that Joel Goodman has been talking about at every opportunity we see him, finally is done and open. It was a lovely night. Many, many people of all ages came out for the ribbon cutting followed by tours followed by a star party.

star party 021

I love going out there for any reason. I also enjoy every event that “HAL” puts on. Like the transit of Venus a few years back, at the Conservancy. Where hundreds (we think 500-600 based just on the cars) came out to watch the last transit for 104 years.

transit of venus 039

The sheer volume of people interested in watching the heavens is to me a sign that we in this area really do love science and nature and discovery. Yes, I know, a run on sentence. But, it does feel like we seek opportunities to learn more, and see more.

There were many speeches last night. Lots of people who made this happen. Still, I love to see the children get into it.

star party 033

My vantage point didn’t let you see the children doing the ribbon cutting. Not the adults. Not the politicians. The children.

Thanks, Star Doc, for your vision. For your leadership. For helping us out at the Conservancy in setting up our “star parties”, like the upcoming Perseids meteor event on August 12th. For all us night owls.

For those looking for the HAL star parties in the new observatory, the next one is August 22nd. Check out the HAL web page for details.

star party 038

Come on in. The viewing is awesome.

Portalli’s in Old Ellicott City

Posted on

The scene of a farewell party for a fellow local blogger.

fandf portallis 018

My first visit to their upstairs outdoor dining area. Real Al Fresco dining without looking at a parking lot or storm water management pond.

Overall, impressive. And the food is good. I judge a restaurant sometimes by how well they execute calamari. Theirs was lovely. Lightly battered. Not greasy. Good marinara. Enjoyed with some blogging friends, and a very nice glass of pinot grigio with it.

We were sending off Claire, our UK Desperate Housewife, who is headed back across the pond after three years here in Howard County.

fandf portallis 026

She probably has seen more in Howard County than many permanent residents, as she definitely gets involved and has loved the experience.

This was a hocoblogs party. Our local blogging “newspaper”. I love going to the parties to meet fellow writers, and to catch up on what is happening around the county.

I was impressed with Portalli’s. It, along with Pure Wine, are now two more destinations on my somewhat small list of restaurants I like. Just don’t make me go to a chain restaurant. I love these individually owned places.

Thanks again to Portalli’s for hosting a party for the community. Ellicott City is one of our treasures. The feel of small town Main Street. Nice place with a view.

Code Red Days

Posted on

The temperatures are soaring. It was supposed to rain today and cool it off, but so far, no such luck. Sunday and Monday the temperatures were in the high nineties and the heat index in triple digits.

Just think how hard the farmers have it, dealing with heat while trying to harvest, feed the animals and do all those other chores. If your days are spent going from A/C home to A/C car to A/C job to A/C car to A/C restaurant to A/C home, you have it easy.

We spent part of Sunday (early) dealing with some yard things. Not too long. Monday I had to go weed, harvest and water my garden. That hour and a half was brutal, so I can’t imagine having to spend hours getting things ready for CSAs, markets and deliveries.

food bank and zucchini 007

Not to mention working in steamy kitchens in the restaurants. My hat is off to those who have to work outside in this weather, and to those working the line making your farm to table meals.

If you hit any of the markets this week during the Buy Local Challenge, or go out for Restaurant week, take the time to thank those who make it possible. They aren’t sitting in front of an A/C vent. Also, take time to vote for your favorite adult beverage, and go try a few at the local restaurants. They have a “Garden to Glass” competition going on.

No matter what, keep supporting our local small businesses. And let them know you appreciate them.

Remember the saying, If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher.

How about —- Before you eat that, thank a farmer.

landscape howard county 032

Healthier Eating

Posted on

There’s been this debate in our county about “nutritional standards” and now we seem to be legislating it. I suppose in my world, healthier eating means removing as much artificially flavored, overly processed foods from my diet. To others, it may mean gluten free, or vegan, or paleo, or any combination that fits a person’s wants, needs and possible allergies.

I thought we lived in a highly educated, motivated, discerning, well informed corner of the universe. I seem to be somewhat naïve since now we need the government to choose what is “healthy” for us.

I read the county council passed bill, with its exceptions, convoluted language, and even its confusing parts that make me shake my head. Low fat milk is full of sugar. Diet sodas have lots of sodium. Which wins? I thought healthy now included fats? According to this bill, it doesn’t. And that 25 cent thing? Really? OK, I’m a vendor. I put a four ounce healthy snack in my machine for 25 cents less than an eight ounce “unhealthy” snack. Which would you buy?

Why don’t we just ban vending machines if we are worried people won’t make the right choices? While we are at it, can we get rid of those annoying Girl Scout and Cub Scout fundraisers that push sugar laden foods on us as we try to get to the library? And, why aren’t the schools included in this “purge” of unhealthy choices?

Make it simple. Stop selling packaged stuff. Period. Whether it’s the sugar, or the fat, or the artificial flavorings and colorings. They are all bad for us in excess.

The people who live here do a pretty good job of thinking for themselves.

For example. Our annual Field Day. Where we once went through cases of soda.

field day 2015 049

Now, we ended up turning back most of the sodas. We go through large amounts of water, and not quite as much Gatorade. In the extreme heat, the crews drink more Gatorade to rehydrate, but even that is changing. They didn’t need bans or legislation to change their habits.

field day 2015 046

Heck, this year, they ate almost all my tzatziki and veggies, and all my salad I brought. Seven years ago, they wouldn’t have made a dent in it. The first pizza to be finished. The veggie one.

Seriously, people. Give our fellow residents some credit. We are one of the healthiest counties in our state. We don’t need all this legislation to tell us what to eat. If we don’t want processed food in county buildings, ban the vending machines.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 522 other followers