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Category Archives: Howard County

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.


Fish On …

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… the grill.

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There is something about halibut. One of my favorite fish to grill. And we can’t go to Annapolis to visit family without stopping at Annapolis Seafood for something. It was a stop for shrimp but the halibut was calling my name.

The shrimp, also bought, was used today in a shrimp curry with Thai Spices Matsaman curry, fragrant with cumin and cardamom.

The halibut, grilled last night with some Friends and Farms vegetables.

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Asparagus and red potatoes.

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All seasoned with one of my pesto concoctions, defrosted from the freezer. This one was a mixed greens pesto, made last summer. Since it is almost garlic scape season, I need to finish off the last of the pesto containers from the basement freezer.

To complete that local flavor.

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Maryland chardonnay, from Big Cork.

Here’s to many more locally inspired and small business supplied dinners. It’s grilling season, big time.


Inspired By

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The Ellicott City Farmers Market.

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Just a simple salad. Baugher’s strawberries. Breezy Willow arugula. Shepherd’s Manor Ewe Cream Cheese. What you can do after a quick walk up Main St. on a Saturday morning.

What would you pay for a salad of this freshness at a restaurant? Not the small amount necessary to make this one.

We bought a quart of strawberries (OK, two quarts). They were $5 a quart if you bought two. The cheese.

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$7.50 at the market. Sheep’s milk cheese. To. die. for.

Arugula. $2 for 1/4 pound. We bought half a pound because I love it.

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Breezy Willow’s organic veggies are awesome, to say the least.

We added a simple cream dressing. This was Newman’s creamy Caesar.

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You could make at least six salads with what we bought. $16.50 total in cost. We are greatly enjoying the bounty from the market.

As for dinner that night.

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I grilled those Lancaster Farm Fresh wings and served them with that rhubarb sauce.

And the wine. From the Wine Bin.

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How great to have wine right next to the market. The better to complete your meal choices.

I could get used to finding Saturday dinners at this market.

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Markets, Farmstands, CSAs and Cooperatives

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Somewhere along the way during the past three years, I replaced the grocery store visits with fresh, regional, seasonal foods bought in four venues.

We started with vegetables and fruit.

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Sunday mornings at Olney, or Saturdays at Glenwood.

Add to that our visits to the local farmstands and local farms, for dairy, meat, cheese, bread and other goodies. As well as the veggies and fruit.

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You can go online and find year round open farm stands. Like England Acres, Breezy Willow or Copper Penny. I have been keeping track of the locations on my Farms page, and my local resource page.

There are at least six CSAs in this area. Some of them year round. Others, eight or nine months a year.

There are buying services. One, Friends and Farms uses regional suppliers. The other, South Mountain Creamery, delivers all sorts of items beyond milk, right to your door.

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Now, I have also expanded my garden.

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Add to that the pick your own sites, like Larriland, Butlers and Baughers.

It is pretty simple around here to replace grocery stores for most of what you eat.

Over these four years we have done just that. It took a while to find sources, but it is so satisfying to have really fresh foods. And we know the people that supply us with most of our food.

I just visited the new Ellicott City Farmers Market last Saturday. This is what I love most about farmers markets. The best things to buy and use.

I came home with two really great salsas. Some romaine. Radishes. Apples. A half dozen plants for my yard. I was tempted by the pizza, but had enough at home to pass it by this time.

I will be going back for more of that salsa.

Have you replaced the stores with your local businesses? The buy local challenge in July isn’t the only time to support your local farmers, vendors and small businesses.


Lunch From the Garden …

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… and a few regional farms.

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In the process of making lunch, the picture above shows some of the kale and chard from this morning’s thinning of the garden. Dressed with a simple yogurt dressing. Shake yogurt and lemon infused olive oil with some garlic powder, salt and pepper.

An apple from last week’s Friends and Farms basket, served with some of that provolone that we got, too.

Homemade peach yogurt.

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To share, we used one cup of plain yogurt. One defrosted peach, from my stash in the freezer (courtesy of Larriland picking last August). A 1/2 tsp squirt of agave. That’s all. I control the sweetness when I start with plain yogurt.

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This yogurt is available at Friends and Farms. At Breezy Willow Farm store. And at England Acres in Mt. Airy. Best yogurt we have ever found. No web site, as they are an Amish farm.

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As for the rest of this bag of peaches. Destined to become peach pops. Simple to make. Blend the peaches with yogurt. To fill my popsicle molds I need about 32 ounces in the blender. If I get a little too much, the rest goes in a small plastic jar and becomes frozen yogurt. I am using whatever I have to give it the amount of sweetness I want. Currently I have agave, but I also use honey or maple syrup.

On a related note, I harvested a few more white onions today.

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Including one very large one, that was too crowded in the middle of the rows.

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And found the beginning of an onion scape on the largest one. Now, I need to head back up there and pinch off scapes to let the onions put more energy into the onions and not the shoots.

Back on the home front, though, my garlic out in the back yard hasn’t begun to produce scapes yet. They are getting really large finally, so I hope to get at least one dozen large heads of garlic in a few months.

So far, a good start to the harvest of spring vegetables. Now, if only the strawberry picking season would begin. Gorman Farm projects that they will open Saturday the 24th of May. Larriland is still posting “late” May. We are almost out of the last of the frozen berries, and can’t wait to get out in the fields and bring in this year’s berries. The freezer is getting empty now.


Having a Meadow

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Since we moved from Columbia to the western parts of the county. One of those things that just boggles my mind.


Having a meadow, that is. I am a city girl. Born and raised in Baltimore. In a row house. It most certainly is different to live where I can’t see my neighbors. Where I can have coffee on my patio in my nightgown.

I am lucky, I know. But, where did it come from? My mom hates it out here. Too dark and quiet for her. She is also a city girl. Born and raised just west of downtown B’more.

Why do I love it so much? Maybe a throwback to my great grandparents who had a small farm in western Baltimore County. Who knows?

Three times around our property line is a mile. A far cry from the 1/12th acre of our townhouse in Columbia.

All in all, it is something that interests me. That sense of doing something new. Of changing my comfort zone. Of growing even after retirement.

We all need to find those areas that challenge us. That make us different than what we were when we were young.


Me, I’ll just be happy out here in the boonies. If only those people who are running the triathlons these days would only clean up their trash.


Sure Signs of Spring

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Around here my favorite sign of spring is the blooming of two of my plants.


The rhododendron. Every winter I try and protect them, to whatever extent I can. This year, the deer decided to chomp on one of them. The snow cover prevented them from eating on the ground, so they chewed up the bottom of one of these plants, as well as a few evergreens.

Thankfully, they did OK overall. The other two are a darker color.


And not as quick to flower.

My second indicator is the tangerine azalea.


Almost blooming. This year I have about a dozen blooms on this plant. Some years it flowers more than others.

In the spring, too, the hostas are incredibly pretty. They are a nice contrast to my north facing azaleas that bloom last.


Along with the azaleas, the lace maple in full color.


The lace maple is one of those trees. It just leaps out and captures your attention.

Springtime. When the plants renew themselves. The trees turn green and the shade returns.


The backyard is green and shady.


And the meadow is full of buttercups.

Spring in this part of the world is the reason we stay here. Lovely weather. Beautiful surroundings and lots to do.

Event Overload Again

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The third weekend in May. Absolutely one of the most overbooked event weekends around here.

Wine in the Woods. Both days, Saturday and Sunday.

The Preakness. Saturday is the race in Baltimore, and the Balloon Festival at Turf Valley the 15th-17th if the weather permits it.

The Columbia Triathlon is Sunday morning. Our love/hate relationship with this event depends on whether we need to get anywhere by car that morning. We live right off the bike race route.

The EC Tasting Gallery Pop Up at Bistro Blanc is Sunday night.

There is a Family Open House at Belmont Saturday morning 10-12, with guided hikes and other goodies. The Howard County Conservancy is providing environmental educational programs at the Belmont site.

We are volunteering for Big Cork at Wine in the Woods.

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Been fans of their wines since they opened the winery. Love the chardonnay, and really am looking forward to the release of their first red wines this fall. And, their new building out in Rohrersville.

As for that pop up dinner, we will be there. I can’t wait to see what the EC chefs and Chef Johnny at Bistro Blanc create in a culinary culture tour.

If I can drag myself out of bed Saturday morning to see the mass ascension at Oh-Dark=Thirty up at Turf Valley, I will be doing that too.

Belmont does interfere with Wine in the Woods. Darn. Van Wensil is leading two guided hikes which should be wonderful to do.

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Sunday morning finds us cheering on the leaders in the triathlon as they pass the Royal Farms at the circle where Dayton and Glenelg meet. We like heading up there for coffee and bagels and to watch the world class athletes as they head out, and then back, from their loop out to Triadelphia.

And, can’t forget to sit out and watch the Preakness while sipping a Black Eyed Susan. Last year they changed the recipe for the cocktail. Sounds really interesting, if you have St. Germain around the house.

What are you doing this weekend? Are you guilty of event overload, too? I’ll need a week to recover from all this entertainment.

Oh, and the azaleas at Brighton Dam are still blooming. If the rain the next two days doesn’t mess them up.


Themed Baskets

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The latest thing in our weekly baskets. Foods that will work together to make a meal. Not just random, ripe, in season veggies, but well thought out combinations for exotic dinner ideas.

Sort of like Food Network and Chopped.

This week: we could do Indian or Middle Eastern foods easily.

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These are the contents of our small basket from Friends and Farms.

The ideas? Butter chicken. Spiced kabobs. Chorizo, eggs and asparagus. Ribs with peach yogurt barbeque sauce. Or with peppers and onions. Lots of recipes on the web site to tempt us, too.

The proteins, to start. Eggs, chorizo, chicken thighs and country pork ribs. Dairy, this week, peach yogurt and the small container of plain yogurt. To make those Indian inspired sauces and marinades.

We were supposed to get tomatoes, but a last minute change due to availability gets us tomato puree, perfect to use in marinades and sauces.

Onions. Peppers.

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As in seriously sized peppers.

White potatoes. Cameo apples. Broccoli. Cilantro (again, great in so many recipes).

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And the bread. Kalamata olive and rosemary. One of my favorites from The Breadery.

I am having a difficult time deciding what to make first. I think there will be spiced kabobs soon, though.

One of the broccoli crowns was steamed to use with dinner tonight. And, the peach yogurt will go two places. Scones for the Mother’s Day tea (on Saturday) at the Conservancy. The rest. In peach pops. Warm weather makes me crave peach pops.

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Yogurt pops are simple. Any flavor yogurt. Appropriate fruit. Blended together with a splash of simple syrup. Tomorrow, I am using defrosted Larriland peaches, and the peach yogurt we got today. I bought my cute little pop sticks at Casual Gourmet in Glenwood.

Hey, the temps are in the 80s around here. Time to think about summer food.


Weather Or Not

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As in extreme weather. The conference.

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It may have started out sunny, but we did have a serious little storm with some lightning and thunder, so we brought the conference in from the rain.

I volunteer for field trips. This one, for ninth graders from four local schools, was the second year the Conservancy hosted all sorts of stations and presentations about extreme weather.

Want to know about power lines, and why you should be really careful around them? Let BG&E demonstrate what happens when live wires come in contact with ladders, poles, and gloves.

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Oh, and they roasted a hot dog for the students. I missed that picture. At that point, we were checking the clouds rolling in and using the resources around us, including the Office of Emergency Management’s Command Unit.

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I am always impressed by the thoroughness and the complexity of events hosted by the Conservancy. From Ava Marie’s opening remarks to the presentations all over the grounds, and the learning activities, and the displays, this was another chance to engage the community and have a fun day as well.

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It was a pretty full house, and most of the students seemed to be intrigued and interested in what they were learning.

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If only Mother Nature had cooperated and didn’t make us cancel the last session, as thunder roared and cloud to ground lightning was seen in the western sky. Oh, and getting back to the buses while it poured rain. Just what we are used to seeing around here. Wait a few minutes and the weather will change.

I love my volunteer “job”. We are never too old to stop learning, and sharing knowledge is even more rewarding. Congrats to Ann Strozyk and all the volunteers today, for putting on this conference for over 100 students.



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