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Local Resources Page Update

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My Local Resource page. Up there below the header. I just updated it again today. Head over there and check it out if you are looking for sources for local meats, dairy, produce, fruit and flours.

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I still have more to research but I did add a few things. I also cleaned up any broken links and errors.

Many local CSAs have changed options. More pick up locations, and days. Big announcements, too, like Gormans Farm closing their farm store to focus on their CSA.

If you haven’t had the chance, I will suggest that a trip into Catonsville to visit Atwater’s Bakery is a delightful way to spend lovely spring days. We did lunch there again a few weeks ago. They have expanded what they offer in their “pantry” and fridge. Including their soups and their salads.

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Add to all these choices the seven farmer’s markets here in the county. Plus two in Catonsville. One in Olney. One in Burtonsville. Check out locaharvest to see where your nearest markets are.

There was a time I headed off to Silver Spring to find local goodies. We don’t have to travel far now.

Soon to come. I am going to try some “locally” sourced rice and beans. We don’t have many choices close to us, but just south in the Carolinas there are a couple of options. I will be stocking up my pantry and will be blogging about the experience. Who knows? I may be able to give up that grocery store soon.

Plus, off to Secolari for a hocoblogs party in a couple of weeks. They have olive oil from the USA. No need to buy Italian or Greek or Spanish. Quite a few producers in the US to choose.

Minimizing that carbon footprint, in tiny steps.

Fifty Shades of Greens

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Springtime. The drowning in the greens. Not a bad thing. One of those pleasures that we anticipate in the dead of winter.

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Today’s CSA pickup yielded lots of greens. Lettuces. Spinach. Kale and more.

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A large share. Formerly known as a full share. I forgot how large they can be. Still, as people who put many vegetables on our lunch and dinner plates, this is a good haul.

I have to comment about those squash.

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Zucchini and yellow squash are NOT in season in Lancaster County. It seems our CSA has decided that the consumer who wants more produce earlier than normal in the midAtlantic will be driving their selections.

We seem to have expanded into a few more Southern states. The purists may not be happy, but we are getting incredibly fresh organic food at less than retail cost, so I can forgive them for using other farms. Last year, we had a delayed opening because the crops were far behind here. The extreme cold winter hurt them.

This year, they opted to bring in vegetables from further south. That allowed them to open on time. We know this was another brutal winter. When it comes to decisions. Do they branch out and keep customers, or remain pure to the “local” tag and lose customers due to decreased yields and subpar product. I can understand them.

I have to admit. Those squash? Awesome.

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Two ended up in tonight’s dinner. A simple gratin. Squash. Hummingbird Farm tomatoes. Mozzarella from last week’s basket. Olive oil. Herbs de Provence. Baked at 350 degrees until browned.

Tonight’s dinner.

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Not bad for a Tuesday.

As for those other greens. They will be enjoyed.

And that rhubarb. Begging to become a crisp tomorrow.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

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When it comes to food choices, we have so many options in this area that it is sometimes overwhelming. Literally. CSAs. Farmer’s Markets. Organic food stores. Specialty stores. Fresh from the farm at farm stands.

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What is the best value? It has taken me years to figure out what works for me. It may not work for you. I do find it a great deal that we have moved the CSA market into one with maximum flexibility.

Community Supported Agriculture used to be “one farm” for the most part. If the farm did well, you ate well. If the season was awful, you didn’t get much. Then, they started banding together to make cooperative ventures. Buying fruit from orchards, or bread from local bakers, or cheeses and dairy.

Enter the flexibility of sizes. Small, medium, large. Half or whole shares.

Since our entrance to buying from CSAs, we have watched them adapt. Now, it is simpler to choose, but harder to manage (trust me, I think our site host is a saint to put up with all the headaches associated with dozens of options).

Enter also really innovative ideas like Friends and Farms. Where you can miss a week. Or change options at a moment’s notice.

Add our multiple farmer’s markets, like the return of Glenwood for us in west county. Where we can round out our shopping and avoid those long lines at the local Giant Food.

After four years of experimenting, I think I found my perfect match. Rotating the choices from Friends and Farms year round. Hitting farm stands like Breezy Willow in the winter. Jenny’s in the summer.

And my anchor. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. We held our breath to see if we met our minimum to keep our site going. We did that and more. Forty one shares. Mini custom. Small. Medium. Large. Fruit. Meat. Chicken. Cheese. Flowers. Herbs. They have made it a smorgasbord of options.

Our first pick up was last Tuesday.

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A large share. Most of which has already been consumed, or is planned for the next two days. Asparagus. Grilled. Spinach and chard. Frittata. Beets. Roasted. Onions. Grilled. The Jerusalem artichokes will be roasted tomorrow.

This year I tried a meat share. The heritage pork chops were awesome.

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As for cheese. They continue to make me happy. We like to have a smaller dinner, with some wine. I cut off a few slices of complimenting cheese to savor. Instead of dessert.

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That mozzarella. Perfect shaved over my Friends and Farms tomatoes from Hummingbird Farms.

This local source for tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, before the garden kicks in, is a welcome treat from Friends and Farms. This was my last “small” basket. We are moving to Protein and Dairy. Between the CSA and the garden, I will have enough produce.

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I will miss that great bread but the local farmer’s markets will fill that void.

All in all. I found my combination that works. If you live here, with seven farmer’s markets, a dozen farm stands, almost a dozen CSAs, and Friends and Farms, you certainly can eat well on fresher than store bought food.

Tea ‘N Scones

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For Mother’s Day. This Saturday. A trip through the gardens surrounding the Conservancy Farm, with all the gardeners to show off their handiwork.

It may not be a proper cuppa, but still. This event, in its third year, keeps getting bigger.

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The flowers are in full bloom all over the gardens. Master gardeners will be there, helping you with your questions and selling some plants. The community gardeners will be there, talking about what we grow, and how.

Those clubs that maintain all the other lovely gardens surrounding the historic farm will also be there.

Come with mom. With friends. With your friend’s mom.

Here’s all the sites that are open.

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You can preregister online here.

I am baking scones. Two kinds. I am also hosting up at the community gardens. Talking mostly about our food bank plots.

The event starts at 10 am. If you are lucky you can watch the baby killdeer chase after momma and poppa.

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They hatched Tuesday and are now running all over the place.

See you maybe?

Brighton Dam Azaleas 2015 — Behind Schedule

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Yes, the azalea gardens out at Brighton Dam are far behind schedule this spring. Not to say they aren’t lovely but they won’t have peaked even at Mother’s Day, the traditional visit weekend.

They look like this.

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And not like this from a few years back.

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This picture from 2012 was in April. A much warmer winter and early spring.

Those white azaleas. Looked like this yesterday.

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They need a few more warm days to open.

Still, not a bad place to have a picnic lunch. The south side of the property has a picnic area, with a playground and tables and grills.

You can’t picnic in the azalea gardens, but you can enjoy these bright spring days just west of the center of Howard County. Right over the county line.

My suggestion. If you can, hit the gardens early next week. Avoid the crowds and take a picnic lunch.

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The 4F Club

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Friends. Farms. Families. Foraging. The theme for today’s post. Much of today centered around these words. Like foraging.

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Those wild asparagus that live out by my driveway. I harvested five of them so far this week. Just enough to add to dinner. Which began from my Friends and Farms basket.

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There was a very nice brisket in the basket. As well as some Baby Bella mushrooms. Both showed up in dinner. We did slow cook the brisket on Thursday, but the leftovers became dinner tonight.

As for families. Part of the dinner came from Jennys. Subject of yesterday’s post. New red potatoes. Snap peas.

Part of dinner came from my garden.

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The first spring onions.

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A little sauté. Then an addition of sour cream. The leftover brisket.

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All served with a Friends and Family wine from RdV Vineyards.

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You could call it Beef Stroganoff from another mother. Since it really didn’t follow any Stroganoff recipe.

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It still tasted great, even without the pedigree.

Loving these days with all the markets, farms and my garden kicking into high gear.

Jennys Is Open

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One of my favorite milestones in springtime. The opening of Jenny’s Market off Rte. 32 just north of us. Today the market opened. I borrowed a picture from their Facebook page. It shows every reason why I love them. They are a family business. One that cares about us, and that we care about.

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For me, this picture below from last May is the main reason they are a favorite place to shop.

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I can’t grow these items. No local farmers do, either. For me, having access to bananas, avocados, mangos, and citrus, without having to drive 20 miles round trip is a huge plus.

Today I picked up a couple of avocados and bananas. Some new red potatoes. It was just fun to go visit on opening day.

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They also have hanging baskets and seedlings. And, watermelon from Florida. I might be tempted to stop in for a watermelon this week. I have feta. I have mint. I can get limes at Jennys. Time to make one of these.

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