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Lovin’ Summertime

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Summer has arrived. Really arrived. Hot, humid, perfect weather for the garden to flourish.

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The first zucchini. Out of that 100 square ft area in my garden. I like to pick the earliest ones when they are small, and do a simple dish with them. The massive zucchini will come later when I find them hiding under the leaves.

We got some really good stuff in our Friends and Farms basket Thursday. Atlantic Bluefin and ground lamb are the stars.

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We did the tuna Thursday, and made mega meatballs tonight from one of the packages of lamb.

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I do a “no measure” meatball. Putting in bread crumbs, an egg, za’atar and cumin, salt and pepper, a few scallions. Baking at 350 degrees until perfectly browned.

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A few meatballs. Sautéed zucchini. New potatoes from up at Jenny’s market.

Followed by one really great dessert. Strawberry rhubarb dessert bars.

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Not too bad for a hot humid Saturday. Here’s to more meals from local foods. Here’s to celebrating summertime.

Scapes Season

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It has arrived. Garlic scape season.

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That first bunch of scapes in the CSA box from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Time to head over to the recipe page and start browsing.

It was a great transition box this week.

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Strawberries and rhubarb in the fruit share. Spring onions. Baby fennel. Greens. Beets. Cilantro and mint.

The meat share.

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Beef stir fry. Pork links. Boneless pork chops.

Tonight I was just in the mood for a stir fry. Using quite a bit of the box, and one of those precious scapes.

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Scapes, scallions and chard stems. In the wok with some light olive oil and toasted sesame oil. Fresh ginger.

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Add beef, soy sauce, straw mushrooms and curly kale.

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Served over brown rice. With a very lovely Linden Rose.

Get yourself to the local farmers markets and see if Love Dove Farms has their usual supply of scapes. So many ways to make them. Not just in pesto.

A short season, but a flavorful one.

Words of Wisdom

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Sometimes it’s the simplest advice that means the most. Like how gardening can be the trial run for someone who wants to open a winery.


We were sitting on the deck at our favorite winery, Linden, looking at the incredibly scenic view while enjoying a glass, some cheese and a baguette. When we first arrived, we watched the owner/winemaker Jim Law head off on his zero turn to cut some of the paths through the vineyards. He has always maintained that he is a farmer first and foremost. Growing grapes.

Of course, from those grapes comes great wine. He is a master. One we have known for 25 years now. He always stops by to talk if we are visiting. We like to talk about his old wines. Like the 2005 Cabernet Franc we opened for dinner last week.

He and I like to talk about growing stuff. Me, my garden. Him, his grapes.

He made a comment Saturday about what he tells those who think it would be great to start a vineyard. He asks if they garden. For those of us who do, we understand. Gardening is hard. We have pests. The weather drives us nuts. The weeds. The bugs. The heat and humidity. Lack of rain. Too much rain.

If you have gardened, you get it.

Growing things isn’t always easy. Making great wine, like Jim does, takes that extra effort of understanding your climate and living with it.

His vineyards look awesome right now.

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He gave me great advice once for my gardening. I grow heirloom tomatoes. He told me. If it rains too much, don’t weed. Let the weeds soak up all that extra moisture that would otherwise water down your tomatoes.

If there’s a drought, definitely weed like mad. The secret to a great heirloom tomato is very similar to the secret to great wine. Concentrated flavors, not watered down, make the taste.

Here’s to making the best we can. And to great friends. And great wine.

Perfect Pork Chops

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I finally figured out how to make the perfect pork chops. It’s only the third or fourth time we have gotten chops in our Friends and Farms order, or in the meat share from the CSA.

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This was yesterday’s protein and dairy bag. From Wayne Nell and Sons, four large beautiful boneless pork chops, extra thick.

As for the rest of the basket, we are getting eggs again from Miller Farm in Clinton MD. A nice changeover to really farm fresh eggs instead of our regional winter supplier. We got some chicken apple sausage from Logan’s, in Baltimore. And, boneless skinless chicken breasts from Locust Point Farms in Elkton, MD. Instead of milk, as usual, I got my weekly substitute “extra produce”. An option for those who don’t drink milk. Two bunches of scallions.

As for those pork chops, I took apart the package and vacuum sealed two of them to freeze for later use. The others.

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I pounded them with my mother’s old meat tenderizing mallet. Breaking them down a bit and getting them both to the same thickness so they would cook at the same rate. Nothing on them but salt and pepper. Pan fried in light olive oil. Very high heat to sear. Finished under a lid with a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and get the centers to that perfect state of doneness.

Then, I forgot to take pictures. So there is no “after” shot. Still, my husband declared them to be the best I have ever made. They weren’t tough anywhere. They weren’t chewy. They were moist and flavorful.

I served them with the last of the cabbage from a month or so ago. I kept that whole cabbage in the fridge, and I slow cooked it in chicken stock in the oven. Falling apart. I also got a bag of apples as an add on this week, and baked two of them to use as a side for the pork chops.

These were the add ons this week.

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Five pounds of apples. A pint of vanilla ice cream to use with some of those strawberries around here. Sechrist Brothers beef hot dogs. Because sometimes you really want to grill hot dogs and hamburgers and these all beef hot dogs are just awesome.

An Evening at Secolari

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One of the few places I frequent in Columbia Mall these days. Family owned. Right there on “Main Street”.

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I like this somewhat new addition to the Mall. Secolari was one of the first stores that opened there.

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Mary and Bart de Rosa, who live in Clarksville, opened this second store near the end of the year 2013 into early 2014. My husband discovered it in January, bringing home some of the wonderful Pappardelle’s pasta that they sell.

I loved it and blogged about it.

I will always be buying pasta from them. There is no real description that I can make that shows you just how silky and flavorful this pasta is. Last night, at our blogger event, I had to stock up.

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I am trying a new one this time. A pasta luce, or “pasta light”. No durum. Less carbs and more protein. They also carry a gluten free assortment.

This visit though, I found a new item to try.

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Actually two of them. I love the flavored vinegars and wanted to try the peach in some vinaigrettes. But, it’s that olive oil.


You heard it. This oil is absolutely awesome. Go there and just smell it. I can guarantee you will go home with it. They served it over popcorn. With their black truffle sea salt. Adult popcorn. Perfect for date night.

It is supposedly great for baking. I am currently searching for some recipes to try with it.

Thanks to the hocoblogger community for coming out to support Bart and Mary in this successful store. Bart tells me they are opening two more stores in Maryland. One in Towson. The other? I just had a senior moment and forgot where. I’ll have to check about that one.

I love this place for buying gift packs.

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If you need a housewarming gift, or a thank you, or just want to treat yourself, buying a set of oil and vinegar, or some honey, or sea salts, or pastas, or jams and jellies, this is the place to do it.

And no, they don’t pay me to say this. They do have blogger parties, with food to show off their products. I wouldn’t keep going back if they didn’t have a great product. Besides, they are the sweetest people who just love what they do.

Coop Benefits

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Strawberries. Many, many strawberries.

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I think almost everyone got strawberries today at our Cooperative CSA pick up. The benefits of a good season. When we get much more than expected due to a good yield.

We got an email last week. It said “Surprise!” Fruit shares were starting a week early. Without any cost. Two pints of organic strawberries for all our fruit share members. That’s a lot of us in Columbia. I think we have 40 fruit shares at our pick up site.

Plus, the small, medium and large vegetable shares had strawberries tucked in our boxes, too. All told, I went home with 48 ounces of berries. Sweet. Juicy. Ready for desserts or baking or maybe margaritas.

The large share had ten more items this week. Huge amounts.

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There were white kohlrabi. Red and white scallions. Green garlic. Another POUND of spring mix. Red leaf lettuce. Green butterhead lettuce. Rhubarb. Galantina chicory. Baby crinkled cress.

Still that heavy greens season. Can’t wait for the transition to summer vegetables but we are enjoying the salad mixes.

I also picked up my weekly meat share.

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I should have done a happy dance for that bone in ham steak. We got one last winter. The best ham steak we have ever eaten. We also got my favorite chicken, the boneless thighs. And, bacon. The bacon is different. I bake it, and use it for greens and frittatas. Flavorful, but definitely fatty.

Biweekly cheese share this week too. A full basket to bring home.

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My fave. The Millich Kivvel.

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So creamy. Yet pretty assertive, if you eat the rind, like my other half does.

Lancaster Farm Fresh keeps getting better and better. A really good value. Very fresh food, that lasts for weeks in the fridge. And surprises. Like those strawberries.

Protein and Dairy

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An option from our Friends and Farms baskets. One that we enjoy during the summer, when our garden is producing the bulk of our vegetables, and Larriland becomes the source for most of our fruit.

I miss the South Mountain Creamery truck at the Glenwood Market. But, I am happy to report that you can get wonderful yogurt and ice cream and milk from Friends and Farms.

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This week’s protein and dairy bag, with a couple of add ons.

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The add ons. Pequea Valley plain yogurt. No sugar in it. Just plain yogurt. Thick, rich. The flavored ones are good too, in particular I love the maple yogurt. Still, plain yogurt can be used all sorts of places.

As for that ice cream. If you love hot stuff, you must try it. If you are a heat wimp, you will freak at what is in this ice cream. Trickling Springs in Chambersburg PA makes this ice cream. It contains cinnamon, chipotle powder and habanero powder. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I can’t eat it all by itself but I am thinking of one amazing milk shake.

As for this week’s protein items we received. We got two lovely rainbow trout. Cleaned. Split. We grilled them with lemon and dill.

Also, a couple of pounds of short ribs. They are in the freezer. Crock pot dinner later next week.

My typical dozen eggs. Already gone. Frittatas.

We don’t do whole milk. I choose to get a surprise veggie instead. This week. Beets with greens.

If you want really good meat and eggs and dairy, this is the way to go.


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