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A Winter CSA

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Community Supported Agriculture. In the dead of winter. Believe it or not, many farms here in the MidAtlantic have crops in high tunnels and greenhouses, all year long.

Recent comments on local blogs and Facebook lament the condition of produce in our grocery stores. Yes, even the higher end stores have slimy produce. We all miss that fresh from the ground delivered produce, ours is only one day from the field.

Here, where we live, there are two winter CSAs. Zahradka and Lancaster Farm Fresh. There are other delivery services, but not all their produce is local. And yes, Zahradka and LFFC bring in regional vegetables to augment the harvests. After all, who would complain about a chance for citrus, or maybe greens from the Carolinas.

Here is our first delivery from LFFC, yesterday.

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Looks good to me, for roughly $26 a share. All organic. About 10 pounds total. A couple of pounds of carrots. 12 ounces of tatsoi. Turnips. Chard. Red beets with their greens attached. Onions. Two absolutely lovely watermelon radishes.

I added many specialty items. Pantry item. Yogurt. Cheese. Bread. I could have added meat or chicken, eggs, milk, tofu, grain and flour, fermented beverages.

It is nice to have a source of fresh food when the farmer’s markets are closed. There are just a handful of us this winter. Thanks to our CSA for keeping us going, even when we didn’t meet the minimum. I suppose we should all be thankful for Roots and David’s and MOM’s, the local organic markets where our driver drops off produce on the same run as our CSA pick up. It’s really nice for us, since our cost is lower than buying the produce there.

I missed having fresh veggies on our four week break. So happy they are back.

Inspiration

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So, say HI to my chicken water pitcher. The inspiration for my kitchen.

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I have followed the Mediterranean diet for years. First inspired by a trip to the Med in 2002, where we bought our chicken while in Sicily. He is a cute rooster. His bright colors are the inspiration for our kitchen renovation.

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It is almost there. Next up, countertop, stove, sink and cabinet hardware. This is the first real cosmetic upgrade to our house. Almost everything before this was energy driven. Better insulation. Better appliances. Better windows and doors and roof. Well, besides replacing the rotting deck and crumbling patio.

I use my kitchen. Some say I could be abusing my kitchen, with all that steam and chopping and cooking. I know, I should be looking for granite and open concept and the other buzz words. Spoken by people who may have Pizza Hut on speed dial. Our decisions are based on durability and use. So, probably no to granite and yes to quartz. If I mistakenly drip olive oil on quartz, I have a much better chance of recovering.

To christen the new kitchen, a Mediterranean dinner.

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Slow baked tuna in tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Sautéed chickpeas. A nice old red wine.

Now, I need to update my HocoBiz page to thank our electrician for the great work he did to replace our old fluorescent lights.

Mama Millie’s to the Rescue

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Some days you can’t possibly consider cooking.

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Monday night the kitchen ceiling looked like this. Tuesday it was way better, but still at 8:45 PM when the electricians left, I was in no mood to cook. So, I called Mama Millie’s.

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They are in “downtown” Glenelg, not far from us. Small. Locally owned. A pizza was a good idea. While cleaning up dry wall and other stuff.

Then, come Wednesday, ceiling repair and “mudding”. Another day with the kitchen covered in plastic.

This time I was tempted by the Stromboli.

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Trust me. The “small”. Could feed us for two days.

Today, we heated up leftovers.

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Originally, we had ordered a Stromboli and a baked ziti. Either one of them could make half a meal for us. Tonight, I reheated the ziti, and the rest of that Stromboli will be dinner tomorrow. I never opened the garlic bread last night, as two pieces came with the ziti order.

Over all, I spent $40 over two nights. Have at least four nights of dinners. They are fresh. They are seasoned well.

I could occasionally be tempted in the future to get Stromboli when I don’t want to cook. They are very good.

By the way, my husband first tried them while looking for a good Italian cold cut sub. Like he used to find in Pennsylvania at the local Italian deli. This one.

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You know, even as slow food and home cooked advocates, we sometimes take a break. My break? Has to use small businesses, and not chain food places.

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Mama Millies. Glenelg. Try them.

Change is Hard

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First of all, Happy New Year! I have been fairly busy with the painting around here, and haven’t kept up the blog. At least I remembered to change the copyright notice date to the current year. Hopefully, I can remember to write the correct year on all these checks we keep writing.

As for the past, current and future, I admit, not sorry to see 2016 go away. To us, 2016 brought Medicare, Social Security and lots of other reminders of getting older. Like realization that bad weather is worse when you aren’t a spring chicken anymore. Last year’s blizzard and tornado proved to be problems for us. In minor ways, but still problems.

We learned that we had to change things. Make things more accessible. Eliminate possible accident sources. Update bathroom, kitchen and other interior spaces. All these things are disruptive. Sometimes I think even more so because we are retired and here most days. We didn’t get to run away to the office and come home to the chaos only at night. Or, have the luxury like those on-HGTV people who could stay elsewhere while their houses were under renovation. I understand why people resist doing renovations. It can literally stress you out to the point of wanting to give it up. Yes, the results are nice, but living in complete disarray gets to me.

Every item from my pantry is in bags and boxes on my family room floor. Cooking is difficult.

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Add to it, the sheer shock factor of going to a bright yellow.

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Let’s just say I really like it. My better half? He’s still adjusting to the major color change.

We at least had New Year’s Eve dinner even while working around it all. I have to say that this recipe is a keeper, and it was a simple meal served with an excellent bubbly.

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Emeril Lagasse’s Oyster Stew. Recipe from online. Oysters from the Jessup Seafood Market. A side salad. Champagne savored from beginning of cooking through to a glass just before we gave up and crashed around 11:30. Yep, we couldn’t make it until midnight.

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Here’s to a better brighter 2017! At least my kitchen will be bright and cheery.

A Very Merry

Holiday Season. Beginning and ending, and all those days between. By now, many friends and relatives have done the eating, drinking, giving, and receiving as they celebrate this weekend.

Here, I suppose I can say we are celebrating. All I wanted for Christmas was the decision, and planning, to tackle our biggest painting and updating project. Namely, my kitchen. The heart of our home. The place we spend the most time, and the room that made me want to buy this house a dozen years ago.

cookie central before

cookie central before


cookie central Friday

cookie central Friday

When I said that’s what I wanted for Christmas and my birthday, I didn’t mean it literally, but surprise, that’s how it is turning out. It seems that in order to have my favorite painter and carpenter doing our job, it was best to fit it between some major work that our general contractor has in 2017. And, of course, December and January are slow times in the construction and renovation business.

farewell, pot rack

farewell, pot rack

So, last Thursday it began. Stripping wallpaper borders. Tomorrow, and most of this week, dry wall repair, priming, and the earliest tasks. While waiting for the electrician to give me new (please non-humming) overhead lighting. Sometime later next week, ceiling painting, then final painting of all the walls.

the usual spot for the tree

the usual spot for the tree

This means that I am seriously not thinking straight. To tackle this during the holidays. That’s what I get, I suppose, for saying I don’t want presents anymore. I just want to finish all the laundry list of projects that still need to be done.

Crossing my fingers that the 30 year old stove continues to work, until I get myself ready to tackle that really large item on that list.

Everyone. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, etc. I may not have decorated much this year, but I did get the poinsettias.

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Life Skills

AKA Home Ec. Shop. Personal Finance. You know. The stuff we really should add to the high school curricula. Are we really preparing children for life, or just to get into the top colleges?

Julia wrote about VoTech in her post today. It triggered a response internally from me. Based on watching and reading and just wondering about how well we really are preparing children to survive when they go out on their own. Can they make a simple meal? Can they fix anything? Can they pay attention to their bank balances and adjust their spending?

We had life skill classes when I taught high school in the 70s. They seem to have disappeared.

We also have a shortage of skilled tradespeople where we live. We seem to push everyone into the college prep option and forget about those skills necessary to support our county. Those trades pay well. Better maybe than going to college and majoring in an area that won’t guarantee a high paying job. We need to allow children around here to choose their passion, and to follow it.

Artisans built our deck. For much more per hour than some of the degreed folks around here are making.

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Food for thought, so to speak.

A Betty Crocker Christmas

Remember these?

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My first recipes. Back in 1975 when I moved to Columbia. I found the box up in the attic inside a moving carton, along with my husband’s recipe cards. His were McCall’s and bought when he first moved to Columbia in 1977 (he learned to cook from them, in his new townhouse before I met him).

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That budget casserole up in my cards? Made an appearance many nights for my two roommates and me. Just 1/2 pound of ground beef and one egg. Really cheap eats. Back when we couldn’t afford anything fancier.

I decided to pull out the cookie cards and make some of them for Christmas. Along with an old favorite. This one.

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Which was on the menu tonight.

As for the cookies, check these out.

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Shortbread. Crescents. Caramel-nut bars.

I still have spice cookies and toffee to make tomorrow, but this is a trip back in time. And, no, I didn’t succumb and use Crisco, even when the recipes called for it.

Any old memories being resurrected for your holiday?

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I may be tempted to make that fudge too.