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Category Archives: Howard County

A Very Productive Day

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At least in the gardening world that is the center of my days.

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Bright and early today I was out for my last week as food bank coordinator. Getting all the wheelbarrows ready for collecting the harvest. Additionally we were clearing out beds to ready for fall planting. Add to that the collection of vegetables for the lucky winner of the Wine in the Garden auction. They got a basket full of fresh vegetables again.

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We had a large group there today. Probably ten of us. Maybe even a dozen. We harvested all the beets, carrots, cabbage and leeks. Then pulled the plants from the beds and readied them for planting. Weeded quite a bit too.

Our donation today was 110 pounds. I think this entire month we had at least 100 pounds of vegetables each week to take to the Howard County Food Bank. Today’s volunteer driver met some of the people waiting for the food bank to open, who expressed their thanks for what we donate.

We heard that our vegetables are greatly appreciated, as they are fresh and pesticide free.

Hats off to our volunteers today. We put in two to three hours of work each today. The gardens are flourishing in this lovely weather.

After my time in the food bank plots, I headed off to bring home my last leeks and a boatload of tomatoes.

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This is part of it. My “audition” tray for my county fair decisions. Which cherry tomatoes do I choose? Will I get enough medium tomatoes to enter? What are my best plum tomatoes?

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And, hooray, I got my first ripe heirlooms today. Two each of two different varieties. With a half dozen more close to ripening on the vines. Friday I have to decide which ones to enter.

Now, off to process those other tomatoes. The ones not pretty enough to enter.

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Yes, there are that many tomatoes sitting in my kitchen today. That’s not all, though.

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A basket of goodies for my neighbor, who lets us borrow assorted items, like his ten foot ladder.

Just another Tuesday in west county.

County Fair Prep

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Come on heirlooms!! The last tomatoes to ripen every summer. Making me anxious about the fair. I need two ripe tomatoes of the same variety. The Howard County Fair starts Saturday, and I need to get my vegetables and herbs ready for entry.

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I currently am drowning in tomatoes, and getting ready to process some tomorrow. Unfortunately those heirloom tomatoes on the tray are from the CSA, and not my garden. I have at least five German Johnson that are close to ripe. I hope to pick them Tuesday or Wednesday. I have enough cherry tomatoes to enter, and enough plum tomatoes. Need a couple more medium early girls to get the minimum for submission.

Besides tomatoes, this year I have enough onions to enter.

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There were 24 onions left in the ground last week. I had to find the five best out of them. Fun job. Besides the onions, I harvested the rest of the leeks and the shallots.

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My onion/garlic/shallot bowl is overflowing. Time to do some roasting and get them ready for winter.

I have herbs for entry. Just can’t figure out which ones I want to pick.

And, finally, enough variety to make the vegetable display, which needs five different varieties of vegetables.

See you at the Fair!

Olive Oil and Pasta …

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… and so much more.

I have written about Secolari before. And, used their products in many of my favorite meals. Products like their oil and balsamic, their flavored salts. Plus, that lovely pasta from Pappardelle that they carry.

Now, I can add chocolate mint honey to my latest finds. I am thinking about the suggested use in iced lattes.

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Last night we had a bloggers’ get together at the Columbia Mall location with the owners highlighting some of their products. A “perk” so to speak of being a blogger around here.

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Goodies like popcorn with Black Truffle salt and Lime Olive Oil.

There was a good crowd there. Tasting the oils, the vinegars, the honey, and enjoying small bites from Zoe’s Kitchen, located across the promenade from Secolari.

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You don’t have to be a blogger to taste their products. Whenever you visit, you can sample before choosing your favorites. Barth and Mary deRosa have a wonderful shop here.

If you aren’t into oil and vinegar, but love pasta, they have a product for you. Pappardelle.

Another favorite of mine.

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This orzo, with the lemon infused oil, will be paired with these little gems.

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A baking sheet covered with my tomatoes and shallots. Slow cooked in a 200 degree oven. Tomorrow they will be mixed with the orzo and drizzled with oil. A very tasty salad.

Check out Secolari. Buy some pasta and olive oil. Indulge. Much better and so much cheaper than dinner in a restaurant.

Thanks Barth and Mary for hosting us last night.

Tidbit Tuesday

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Where I run off in all directions and have no single thing to say in a post.

There were 75 pounds of vegetables collected today for the food bank. A lighter day for squash, and the tomatoes aren’t ready yet.

I was up at the Conservancy gardens this morning, “basking” in the 70something degree temperatures with about the same amount of humidity. I hadn’t been there since Saturday, which was fairy house building day.

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This is what 118 people look like before they headed off into the woods.

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Creativity, a great time, and lots of pictures for this year’s album.

Now, on to the next events, and the continuous harvest of my garden.

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The bulk of the five dozen little tomatoes I harvested. Fifty supersweet 100s and 10 sungold. Mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, basil, chopped onion and banana pepper, and a touch of sugar. Roasted at 250 degrees for a couple of hours. Destined to be frozen and used as one of my recipes in my presentation next month on preserving food.

Then, there were the onions.

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I had to harvest a number of them today, as they were getting mushy at the top. We had 1.5 inches of rain in the rain gauge at the garden (in a 36 hour period). It is driving us nuts, splitting tomatoes and washing away my mounded soil over the onions, leeks and shallots.

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Some of those onions, along with new red potatoes and bacon from England Acres, roasted along with the tomatoes. There will be a very nice salad made from this.

As for zucchini, I did make that lemon blueberry zucchini bread. Thanks to the Lean Green Bean.

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I did substitute, as usual. Used all AP flour. Upped the sugar to about 4/10ths of a cup. It tastes wonderful.

There is more shredded zucchini sitting in the fridge so that tomorrow I can make zucchini fritters and freeze them. Another project for that preserving food program scheduled in late August.

I have been a busy bee today. Time to head off and watch the All Star Game.

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?


260 Pounds

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That’s how much food from the Food Bank garden plot we donated the past two weeks. July is my month to “manage” the collection of food from the food bank plot and other garden plots designated by their “owners” for delivery to the Howard County Food Bank.

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At our Conservancy community garden site, we have roughly 800 square feet designated for food bank growing. As well as a 250 square foot annex. And, many gardeners ask us to harvest and share their bounty when they are away on vacation. Or, they drop off bags of veggies the morning we collect.

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We fill wheelbarrows full of fresh vegetables every week.

And sometimes that squash thing gets out of control.

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This was July 1st’s harvest of squash. That day they counted 117 pounds of food. Mostly greens, cabbage, squash, beets and carrots. Tuesday this week I drove over in my Jeep piled full of vegetables, totaling 143 pounds. This week we had our first tomatoes, Plus, being a holiday week for many, we had donations from a large number of community garden members.

We harvested garlic Tuesday. But, it needs to cure before we donate. A couple dozen heads of garlic went home with a fellow gardener to be cured in their garage.

Gardens are like that. Some years you can be overrun with something you planted, and others you lose plants to pests or the weather.

It is nice to see that we provide fresh ripe vegetables to the place we call home.


Field Day Wrap Up

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2014 is history. W1AW/3 aka W3AO is finishing their week as the Maryland holder of the national license, for the centennial celebration.

Maybe my husband will be home for a few days. He is off for the final day at one of the club member’s homes, operating those last hours.

As for Field Day, it was another one of those amazing weekends. I did miss a few things with my earlier posts. Like forgetting we had wires strung for more than two bands. And, that one of our operators was on RTTY with more than one transmitter and computer in front of him. Talk about multi-tasking.

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There’s even a diagram out there that shows how the set up achieves the necessary number of antennas for their operations within the 1000 ft. radius circle.

We had over 800 contacts on the GOTA station. Including some made by Courtney Watson, a county council member who is running for the position of county executive. Courtney can add to her resume that she was “W3AO” for a short time on Saturday.

The head of the Country Office of Emergency Management, Ryan Miller, came to visit, as well. The office really appreciates the assistance of the Columbia Amateur Radio Association (CARA) for emergency support, and always comes out to see our operations.

The CARA welcome team was leading people around the site all weekend. This weekend we had three times the number of visitors, and at one point, had a line waiting to operate the GOTA station. Actually, maybe more than one point, but one time I was in the tent and there were four people watching Rich, KE3Q, who was explaining what we do and how we do it.

I always come away from this weekend exhausted but exhilarated. We were there Sunday until about 6PM, doing the tear down and clean up.

Now, back to my garden and my canning and my cooking. Until next year when we get together for another one.

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