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Main Streets

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I grew up in a city. Baltimore, to be exact. Living on “Main Street”.

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On 144 just east of Catonsville (yes, I know Candlelight Lodge is now a funeral parlor instead of the restaurant it was).

Saturday I drove that main street. Starting in Ellicott City.

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Filled with family owned businesses (except for that stupid Subway they added).

Heading east to Catonsville.

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Home of Atwater’s. One of those amazing bakeries around here. Where you can buy lunch and head upstairs to comingle with others at the tables while having lunch.

They have a couple of farmer’s markets right off Main Street aka Frederick Avenue. One on Wednesday and one on Sunday. They also are the home of an icon.

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Bill’s Music House. You have to see it to believe it. It’s huge, and a landmark to us.

I love heading off the highways and traveling the Main Streets in our area.

Take a trip on Rte. 144. Part of the National Road. Worth the time to park, explore and discover.

If you keep heading east you will hit the Inner Harbor. Frederick Road becomes Pratt Street. I couldn’t have grown up in a better part of this state. So much history. So many stories to hear.

The Incredible Edible

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Eggs.

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For years, they got a bad rap. Now, we know they are one very packed source of many vital nutrients. We stopped buying them during that period. Now, they are an important part of our diet. Maybe that’s why my eyesight has stabilized. And why my “good” cholesterol keeps going up.

We get eggs weekly now in our Friends and Farms basket. Really fresh, wonderful eggs. The kind with that bright yellow yolk.

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Eggs on Sunday morning is standard fare at the house. Served with whatever fresh bread we get.

The markets are opening in a few weeks. If you want to experience the taste of fresh eggs, you should pick up a dozen from one of the local farmers.

If you really get hooked on fresh eggs, you can always find out how to raise chickens in your yard (how’s that for a segue into Greenfest?). Cathy Hudson and Van Wensil will be offering their workshop at 12:30 pm at this year’s Greenfest at Howard Community College on April 18th. Always popular.

If you can’t raise chickens, you can find them at many of the local farms, like England Acres. I like to go there and watch the chickens run all around the farm, while you are checking out the goodies in their farm store.

Tomorrow, April 12th, they are open and grilling their beef for tasting. Eggs and other local goodies in the store. They are just west of Mt. Airy. Most of the lamb we eat comes from them.

What does this have to do with eggs? Nothing, really. I am just very happy to see spring has arrived and the farms and markets are opening weekly.

As for the eggs. How about a few more of my favorite ways to enjoy them.

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A frittata.

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Or a spinach salad.

I also love to make egg salad for sandwiches.

Such a versatile food. Easy to make. Easy to digest. Easy to find. And, quite good for us, too.

Aeroponics … and More

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What are aeroponics? Why do I want to know? Because of this.

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It arrived in today’s CSA basket. With this inside.

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It seems our Amish CSA is using aeroponics to grow butterhead lettuce. Another way they continue to surprise us. Considering the fact that we still seem to be in the midst of winter, and we keep getting those everpresent root vegetables. There are signs of spring though.

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This is the next to last week of our winter share. Spring/summer doesn’t start until the week of May 3rd. Still, I appreciated the lettuce and the young rainbow chard. Added to it. Carrots. Sweet potatoes. Green beans. Dinosaur kale and portabello mushrooms.

Another new item. This cinnamon scented muesli.

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It was our pantry item. We did get hot Italian grilling sausages (maybe it will get warm enough to grill?). The cheese was an artisanal goat cheese. Rich, and creamy.

I headed off to Friends and Farms after picking up the CSA. There, we found a few signs of spring as well.

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Hydroponic arugula and a head of romaine. There were also parsnips, apples, mushrooms, sweet potatoes (really? Do you know how many types of sweet potatoes are hanging out in my pantry?), butternut squash puree. My apple cider for milk substitute to use to make that beautiful bone-in pork roast. A couple of chicken breasts. Destined to become chicken salad. Eggs. Bread. Breakfast links.

Another week. Another full delivery of regional specialties to cook with.

I did add on some seafood this week. Rockfish.

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It quickly became dinner tonight. Panko breaded with a glaze of honey mustard under the breading. Excellent meal.

To The River

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The annual trek. A favorite hike. Done almost every year at the Mt. Pleasant site of the Howard County Conservancy. This year’s hike is Saturday April 11th. At 10 am, the volunteers will lead groups eastward from the Conservancy parking lot, head up to the fields and then down to the river.

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This picture is from one of the fall hikes. We now do the hikes only in springtime to avoid picking up wavyleaf basket grass seeds on clothing and spreading this annoying invasive plant.

We now take the hike before the trails become covered and impossible to easily navigate. Once we crest the hill behind the buildings and start through the fields, we generally stop to admire the view out towards Woodstock.

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We’ll also stop to check out the second largest yellow poplar in Howard County.

Poplar, Yellow
Liriodendron tulipifera
20 feet 3 inches-circumference
98 feet-height
87 feet-spread, 362.8 points
Howard County Conservancy
Woodstock

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Crossing a few more fields, we then move into the woods and follow the stream down to the Patapsco River. Carefully investigating around some old foundations, and looking at the signs of spring along the river. Maybe a train will pass when we are down there. The railroad that follows the Howard County side of the river here continues down through Ellicott City.

This hike is free. There will be many volunteers to keep groups of similar pace together. If you want to enjoy the change in weather and enjoy being outdoors, come join us.

Details here, on the Conservancy web site.

Garden Plann(t)ing 2015

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Today was the real beginning of the gardening season up at our community garden plots.

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All of our plots are full again this year. Eighteen new gardeners joined us. We had our row cover sale today, and a work session cleaning out and preparing our 900 square foot food bank plots.

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Sharps Farm provides us with row cover to sell to our gardeners. We pay the bulk prices to buy the cover then sell it at a very small markup to pay for our seedlings and seeds for the food bank plots. In other words, we round up the per foot price slightly. Still, 12 food wide row cover for 70 cents a foot is a tremendous bargain. They were doing a brisk business. We also held a “barn” sale on those items the food bank plots have accumulated as donations over the years from past gardeners. Mesh screens. Tomato cages. Trellis pieces. The extra “Surround” we bought last year. All told, it will help us finance our efforts to provide fresh vegetables to the Howard County Food Bank.

Today the food bank plots looked like this.

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Weeding. Moving the hoops and changing where we will plant tomatoes. In July, it should look like this again.

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We now train the tomatoes to grow between the rebar rows, as the cages just aren’t heavy enough to hold them. We plant vegetables that produce well, and that are easily prepared by those with limited resources. We have learned that rare and exotic vegetables don’t lend themselves to simple preparations. We grow huge amounts of carrots, beets, collards, kale, spinach, lettuces, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers. Last year we donated 1679 pounds of vegetables to the food bank. We were lucky to have an extra plot when someone had to give up theirs. This year, we are back to the original 900 square feet.

It’s good to see the weather changing, and to see all our gardening friends out there today. Here’s to another great harvest year.

Love for the Gateway

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I have to admit. There was a time 40 years ago when I moved here that I would have thought an office park wasn’t fitting of praise. Back then it was GE’s Appliance Park East. My first room mate worked there in 1975 when I moved to Columbia right out of college. Now it’s Columbia Gateway.

Today, the Maryland State Highway Administration in its abbreviations calls it Col Gateway Drive, and Col is not a recognized abbreviation of Columbia, but Colonel. It has become a destination for some of us looking for decent small business restaurants.

Like Aida Bistro. Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill. Flavors of India.

With last night’s celebration of all things Gateway, it reminded me that you can find really great ethnic foods in these small businesses. We don’t need to eat at chain restaurants around here. Yes, maybe in the middle of nowhere on an interstate you are forced to endure Applebees or TGIF, but here, there are great small businesses at every turn.

Not just at the Gateway. All over Howard County. Check them out. These three restaurants are worth it. And, you can thank Colonel Gateway for reminding us about it. Check out @colgateway to see how awesome this location is. As are its inhabitants.

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Time Flies

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Five years now. Since I turned in my badge and retired from working. Still having fun. Still hoping I make a difference.

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You get that flag. It sits on the mantle. You wonder if there’s enough to keep you busy. In my world these days, there certainly is. Take today.

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Planting a couple of hundred onion bulbs in my community garden plot. Thank you, Southern States Ellicott City for having affordable loose onion bulbs for sale. We got red, white and yellow onions. All in the ground this morning. Covered and ready to grow.

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Picked up both CSAs after that.

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My Lancaster Farm Fresh winter share. Only two more weeks to go. Then a break until the summer CSA starts.

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Then, over to Friends and Farms to get my small share. This week, mahi mahi is a highlight. Home to unpack and store this week’s food.

Get all gussied up to go meet Colonel Gateway. A fun get together thanks to Aida Bistro, COPT, ADG Creative, and Jessie Newburn. At least 60 0f us, local businesses and bloggers, out to support the Columbia Gateway businesses, like Aida.

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Picked up a few buttons. Watched the festivities. Checked out Twitter when we got home, to see if anything interesting was posted.

Work? Me? No thank you. I am having too much fun doing “nothing”.

If you love it here in Howard County, like me, and want to support local businesses. Check out Aida Bistro. Our hosts tonight. Family owned. Great Italian restaurant. We had some great wines tonight, from their “wine taps”. Including one from a local winery. Old Westminster.

Tomorrow? That five year anniversary of my first day of retirement? I think I will be looking for plants to buy. And, prepping food for Easter. What should I do with that awesome basket cheese in my Friends and Farms basket?

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