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The Protein and Dairy Bag

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Next up on the #buylocalchallenge front. Meat. Seafood. Dairy. Eggs.

All readily available here, with just a little searching. Or, by subscribing to the weekly bag from Friends and Farms.

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I get the weekly bag during the summer and fall, when I like to get much of my produce from the Community Supported Agriculture source I have used for years. I also have the garden, and I like to buy fruit from the farmer’s markets. I did customize my bag to include produce instead of the half gallon of milk a week.

The eggs are from Miller Farm in Clinton MD. The chicken is Locust Point in Elkton MD. The other meat items we get are from an independent butcher in PA. He buys from surrounding farms.

Besides using a service like this, there are many other ways to find fresh protein items in Maryland. On my Local Resources page you can find many of the ones I like. I have meat, dairy, and cheese categories on the page.

As for seafood, a wee bit more difficult, but not impossible. The seafood market in Jessup (Wild Seafood) always has something from the Bay, just not necessarily the Maryland portion of the Bay.

Whatever way you find to add some local flavor to your meals will reward you with fresh home “grown” tastes. I have not missed those grocery store packages at all. Sometime during the challenge taste the local offerings at your nearest farm to table restaurant. Many of them have local beef, lamb and pork.

When you get hooked on the taste, you can find a source that works for you.

BBQ ribs with grilled squash and potato salad

BBQ ribs with grilled squash and potato salad

Like I did in last year’s challenge.

Breaking Bread

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#buylocalchallenge.

Starts tomorrow. I have been talking about options above and beyond the standard fruit and vegetables. Like cheese. But, what’s cheese without good bread? Did you know many of our local bakeries source ingredients from Maryland farms? So, you can support local farmers, and small businesses, by buying their breads during the challenge. Or by eating at their bakeries.

Like Atwaters. In Catonsville, near us, and in many places across the Baltimore area.

Here is a link to their sources. Here is a link to their current menu in Catonsville. I have blogged many times about the quality of Atwaters. You can also buy their bread at many markets, like Olney.

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Moving on. Closer to us. The Breadery. In Oella. So many things to find there. They also come to local markets. On a recent visit to the store in Oella, we found their stash of olive oils. Perfect for bread dipping.

Great Harvest Rosemary Lavender Focaccia. Discovered at Breezy Willow. Made with the herbs from the farm. Nothing like it toasted with a creamy fresh chevre.

Stone House Bakery. Another local bakery that sources items from the surrounding farms. Check out their ingredients. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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There are even more local bakeries in the state. Far better products from small businesses.

And if you want to bake your own using local grains, Next Step Produce can help you with that project.

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou. I’ve covered the first two. On the third, you’re on your own.

Next up. Meat, seafood and eggs.

The Big Cheese

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Today let’s talk about local cheese.

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Cheese like Shepherd’s Manor Creamery Ewe Cream Cheese. Which you can find in many farmer’s markets and at Friends and Farms, where we discovered it. The dairy is in New Windsor MD. I love sheep’s milk cheese, and also goat’s milk cheese as they work for us lactose intolerant people.

Olney on Sundays is the closest farmer’s market where you can get this cheese.

Let’s move to Firefly Farms and Cherry Glen. Outstanding goat’s milk creameries. Their cheeses vary. I love Firefly’s chevre more than Cherry Glen, but CG’s Monocacy Ash is awesome.

I think we discovered Firefly at a Turf Valley Home Show, and Cherry Glen, we bought at Roots Market.

Goat’s milk cheese has that tang, that slightly different taste.

As for cow’s milk cheese, lots of options around here. Bowling Green is local and available at many farmer’s markets and farmstands. I really like their “feta” to put in my watermelon salad.

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From yesterday’s post you saw a picture of a fresh mozzarella from South Mountain Creamery. There is nothing like fresh mozzarella. Only thing better than buying a local one is making it yourself from local milk.

Oh, and a PA source for goat cheese. Linden Dale Farm. Their feta made from goat’s milk graced this watermelon salad.

Hey, it’s Buy Local Days. What could be better than cheese? Tomorrow, bread to go with it.

@mdsbest

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The Buy Local Challenge. Coming next week to our area. Are you taking the challenge? Will you be eating a local food at least once a day for the nine days of the challenge?

This year they have included the Farm to Table restaurants in the challenge. If your local restaurant features local foods on the menu, you can help both the farmers and the independent restaurant owners.

Every day until the challenge is over, I will be giving tips on where and how to eat locally, and to buy locally produced items.

I mean, it can be really easy. How about wine, beer or ice cream? A glass of local wine or beer a day. How easy is that? Or, ice cream from the local farms around here. Like Baugher’s. Or the eight dairies on the MD Ice Cream Trail.

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Hmm, a nine day event. Nine places to eat ice cream. Sounds like a plan to me.

Beer!

Head off to Victoria’s GastroPub for Manor Hill draft beers. Brewed here in Howard County. Four of them available.

Head up to Black Ankle. Or Elk Run. Or Sugarloaf Mountain. Or Old Westminster. Or Big Cork. All local wineries making wines with grapes grown in Maryland.

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Every day. A different local beer or wine.

Yep, you don’t have to buy vegetables to excel in the Buy Local Challenge.

Oh, I forgot cheese. There are many local cheese makers in the state. More on them tomorrow.

But, if you are into veggies, Wednesday through Sunday, the county has seven farmer’s markets. If you want to do something different, head out to Larriland to pick berries.

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No excuses. Eating locally is easy.

Healthier Eating

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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.

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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.

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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.

Building Fairy Houses

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It’s that time of year again. The annual program at the Howard County Conservancy to build fairy houses in the woods.

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It’s an adventure in imagination, and creativity, and in celebrating the outdoors. It is immensely popular.

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This is last year’s crowd. There are many volunteers to help and there is a large amount of material available to use. Part of the fun, though, for many of the families is the pre-event collection of materials from your own area. Bringing leaves and flowers and acorns along to use in the construction.

The event is 10 am this Saturday at Mt. Pleasant in Woodstock. Details here.

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Last year they built the houses down by Hodge Podge Lodge. This year, who knows where they will go. After getting a bit of instruction, the families go down into the woods to build their houses.

You can go off into the woods to make that very special, very private house.

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I will be wandering around taking pictures. We always make a scrapbook of the pictures to keep.

Come do something truly special and fun. Saturday morning. FREE. They do ask you to email and let them know how many are coming. The more advance notice we have of the potential attendance, the better we can gather volunteers to assist.

Opening Doors

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And discovering the world.

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In two days a blogging friend who also volunteers with me at the Conservancy is leaving on a one YEAR trip around the world. Something many of us dream of doing. She is starting in Istanbul, one of my absolute favorite cities that we visited during our travels in the past.

I am following her family’s journey on their web page. I admire their quest to travel the world with only a backpack a person. Husband and Wife. Three girls. Their nanny.

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Travel to places where they speak a different language. Eat different foods. Live their lives in totally different ways than we do.

Their journey reminds me to dust off my bucket list. Look for those things I want to do, but haven’t yet. I’ve done quite a bit of it, but there’s always more mountains to climb. Seas to sail. History to discover.

In the meantime, those grounded items on my list keep getting checked. The garden. Check. The house in the country. Check. That radio tower for my husband. Getting closer.

First prize for my heirloom tomatoes at the fair. Sometimes I think it’s unattainable. The weather keeps conspiring against me. But, the search and the challenge is what keeps us going.

I wish Lisa and her family fair winds and following seas. We will be following their adventure, and maybe planning a dream trip of our own.

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