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A Night Out in Old EC

Ellicott City. The county seat of Howard County. Usually visited by us in much better weather than our current frigid wave.

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Main Street is almost always hopping at night, for the bars and the restaurants. Not so much for the small shops that line Main St. Last night we attended a get together at the Still Life Gallery. Hosted by the owners, Sara Arditti and David Dempster.

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The gallery has a lovely selection of art in many media, and some great jewelry as well. They also do custom framing. Something I need to do with some of my photographs that I want to display.

There was quite a crowd there last night. Artists, bloggers, friends and relatives. Enjoying the dessert brownies with wine and beer.

Thanks to the Wine Bin, just up Main St. for donating wine to the event.

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The merchants on Main Street are some of the small business sources that I recommend whenever people are looking for unique gifts or specialized services.

Ellicott City. One of the gems of Howard County.

Menu Planning

Sunchokes. For the third time this winter.

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It seems this seasonal vegetable is best after a hard frost. Heaven knows we have had enough of those around here. The sunchokes are a Northeastern US native plant. They are the tubers from a type of sunflower. A perennial and if not carefully corralled they can become invasive.

They are a great probiotic for most people. They contain inulin, are good at promoting the healthy “gut bacteria” we need, and keep your blood sugar under control. If you aren’t one of those people sensitive to them, and then they cause discomfort. We do OK with them, but this is the third week out of five that they are showing up in our food baskets.

This week, they were in my CSA basket.

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Our winter vegetable share. Week Five. Cabbage, sunchokes, portabellas, onions and garnet sweet potatoes. You will notice two cabbages, as I traded the black radishes. I am currently radished out, and we are in one of those food ruts, where we enjoy steamed cabbage as a side dish. Well, and making lots of cole slaw since we are drowning in carrots this winter. All this cold weather is good for certain vegetables. We seem to be getting quite a few of the hardy varieties that do well when the weather gets cold enough.

The omnivore share gave us these for a pantry item, a cheese and meat.

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Daisy flour. Linden Dale raw goat milk cheese. Ground beef. I love, love, love Linden Dale cheeses. We used to buy them all the time up at the Lancaster Market. I am so glad they became a supplier to the cooperative, and that we get these lovely goat cheeses brought to us. Daisy flour is also a treat. I first bought their flour at the Catonsville Atwaters Bakery, and they really are different than what you may be used to baking with.

Friends and Farms this week.

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This is the small basket, suitable for two people who eat at home four or five nights a week. The carrots, and those two turnips came to Friends and Farms via the same truck that delivers our Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. More and more, they are using the cooperative to supply fresh organic seasonal vegetables. Cremini mushrooms (there will be mushroom soup this weekend). Hydroponic lettuce. Eggs. Apples. Kale, another hardy vegetable that gets sweeter after a hard frost. I love to sauté kale with garlic and bacon to serve as a side dish.

There is also a quart of Atwaters chicken stock this week. A new supplier. From one of our favorite lunch places in Catonsville. We got short ribs this week. And ground beef for me, as the substitute for dairy. Oh, and shrimp. Which only survived two hours in the house, as it was dinner tonight.

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Shrimp over polenta. The last of the polenta from a very long time ago. Found it in the back of the little fridge, where I store flours and nuts, to keep them fresh. One cup left. Enough for two meals. Did you know polenta easily melts again when reheated. Tonight, I added some corn from an earlier basket. I store it in a container in the freezer, and pour out what I need.

What else will I do with this week’s stuff? Crock pot short ribs. Crab stuffed portabellas. Egg salad. Mushroom soup. Cole slaw. Spicy sunchoke dip. I will let you know if this dip is worth making. I wanted to try something new with the sunchokes.

Fresh vegetables all winter. Comfort foods. Who cares if we get negative temperatures the next few nights. We can be warm and have satisfying meals here at home.

Notify Me Howard

OK, we have to do something about Howard. He keeps emailing me. SEVEN times in the last 24 hours. And, he keeps changing his mind. 6-10 inches. Followed by 4-8 inches (just a few minutes after the previous prediction). Now, he’s back to the 6-10 inch thing.

So, will he be right or wrong? Will we wake up to this?

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Notify Me Howard sends us emails. Mostly about weather and cancellations and notices. When the weather is about to go ugly, they can overdo it.

I am so tired of winter. Tired of the cold. The wind. The snow. I keep hearing Jimmy Buffett in my mind. You know, BOAT DRINKS!

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I haven’t shot any holes in our freezer. Well, because we haven’t got any guns in the house, and the freezer is safely in the basement.

Time to go make something good to sip while waiting for the snow to really arrive. Can you tell it’s frustrating around here?

One Wild Weekend

Never a dull moment around here. Even when we do stay home.

Valentine’s Day is a day I cook a special dinner paired with an old wine. We don’t fight the crowds in restaurants. And, since the weather was awful, we had our romantic feast without the worry of trying to drive home in the snow and ice.

All that running around Wednesday for the CSA and Friends and Farms, and Thursday for the lamb and shrimp in Mt. Airy meant I could cook at leisure, and savor our dinner.

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Who knew things would get real exciting a few hours later. Looking out the window of the dining room from the kitchen I see a line of flashing red lights at the end of our driveway. What is going on? I call down to my husband who is on the radio looking for a rare contact, and head out into the wind.

What do I find? A car in the driveway. That, I see, is OK, as they are assisting a friend in emptying their car before a tow truck arrives. The paramedics are putting people in the ambulance, from the other car, the one we couldn’t see, as it was dangling over the embankment held up by trees and our mailboxes. Well, what used to be our mailboxes. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt but my other neighbors spent this morning trying to find mail all over the fields across from us. We, being home all day, had retrieved our mail before our mailbox went bye bye.

Sheared off at the base. In freezing weather. Now, we are searching for someone who can put a new one into the frozen hillside. Until then, mail will be forwarded to our PO box, which my husband uses for radio contact cards.

Adding to all the other excitement, we were awakened at 3 am by what sounded like banshees howling. 60+ knot wind gusts. For a very very long time. Sleep? Who could sleep through this? At least the hexbeam held up on the tower. Another milestone for the tower. Surviving winds of that speed.

This morning. I was lucky. The bird feeders survived. But, the bird bath was empty. All the water blew out. I had to go out, fill it up and spread seed for the very cold birds out there. This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, and today, I counted a gazillion juncos out there. Really. I couldn’t count them all. The ground was covered in them.

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Along with the cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, starlings, woodpeckers, robins, finches and crows, I think I got a good count as everyone hit the seed and the water.

I am so tired of winter. Spring needs to get here soon.

Making the Rounds Mt. Airy

Today we ventured out to Mt. Airy. For a few errands and a chance to try a new place for lunch. I love Main Street Mt. Airy. All the old buildings. Like the Country Store, and Concettas, where we had lunch.

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Concettas Main Street Bistro is just on the south side of Main Street, down the hill from the big parking lot. If you want cannoli shells or filling, tiramisu ladyfingers, pizzelles, Sun of Italy products or Italian made pastas, they have them. Lots of other good things too. This is a neighborhood place. People are super friendly. We went in and ordered an Italian spicy cold cut sub for him, a Concettas club made with turkey for me, a couple of San Pellegrino blood orange sodas, and sat there enjoying the day.

Followed by a trip up the street to Wagners to get some good lamb chops for Valentines Day.

Which are now happily being marinated in red wine, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

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While there we also saw a special on wild Texas Shrimp so there will be surf and turf Saturday night.

Heading back across the road, we stopped at Tractor Supply to see when they will be getting the spring vegetables in, particularly those onion sets that did so well for me last year in the garden. It is Dollar Days there, and we stocked up on suet to keep the birds happy.

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Suets are 6 for $5. You can’t find a better price for suet around here.

They also have baby ducks in the pens. The chicks don’t arrive until the end of the month. But “M R Ducks” (showing my Baltimore upbringing here). No pics allowed of the ducks or chicks.

All in all a pleasant couple of hours in one of the special old main streets in the area. Full of mom and pop stores, quaint restaurants and an outstanding butcher.

Making the Rounds

It was one of those picture perfect sunny “warmer” winter days here today. A day when you get out and do all those errands before the weekend comes. This weekend is chock full of things to do, so early preparations get me ready for Valentine’s Day. Oh yeah, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. And, the New Year program at the Conservancy.

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The feeders are all stocked and ready. I did get to Kendalls for nuggets to fill up the woodpecker feeders.

I picked up my Friends and Farms, and my Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA baskets. With a quick stop at Harris Teeter in Kings Contrivance to fill in those items for my weekly menu planning, I am all set to spend Valentine’s Day here at home. Celebrating with a dinner worth hundreds at a restaurant, and that I only spent a small amount of money to purchase.

As for those baskets.

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Friends and Farms gave us quite a bit of inspiration for cooking.

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I particularly liked those chicken breasts in the shape of a heart. How romantic.

We also got pineapple oranges from Florida. Similar to Valencia, they will become a salad or two, with those beets and a red onion from a while back.

As for those sunchokes, they herald a new partnership for F&F with one of the farmers I frequented often at the Dupont Circle market, Next Step Produce.

I am thinking a really different interpretation of colcannon, using sunchokes, kale, and parsnips, along with a few potatoes. Why not? Who needs to be stuck in traditional recipes when we have so much fresh organic produce to inspire us?

The pork roast and the apple cider. Will be dinner Friday night. Along with cole slaw. See below for my CSA basket that makes this dish possible.

Here is the Lancaster Farm Fresh Omnivore basket today.

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Green cabbage. Perfect for slaw. That fresh kale. Mushrooms for a salad with the arugula from F&F. Mega beets. I love dry roasting beets and using them in salads. That humongous celeriac is making me crave roasted root vegetables. Again, I find it motivating me to break out the cookbooks and try something new.

Who needs to fight the crowds at restaurants on Valentine’s Day. Certainly not us. We will be dining in style with minimum fuss, thanks to our local purveyors of fine foods.

The Year of the Sheep

Posted on

So is this the year of the goat, or the sheep?

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Either way, I’m covered.

Want to learn more about the New Year traditions of various Asian cultures? Come join Wendy Ng and Kyong Parker at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday at 10 am. to hear all about it.

Here is the write up from the events page.

Lunar New Year celebrations are linked to nature and are celebrated by billions around the world. Traditions abound with flowers, special fruits and foods, beautiful colors, games and posters throughout the house. Preparations for the new year also include organizing, clearing out, and cleaning. We invite families to participate in some of the Chinese and Korean traditions while learning the greetings and etiquette of Eastern cultures. Make and take home some of the decorations. Rain or shine. Program is free but registration is necessary. FEB 14- Saturday 10am FREE

They do want people to register to be sure they bring the right amount of materials.

It would be a fun Valentine’s Day morning excursion, before heading off for those romantic evenings.

See you there??

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