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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sweater Weather

It definitely feels like October out there. While picking mint, what’s left of it, I had on my fleece vest. Tonight I may indulge in hot cider, since we picked up some at Larriland the other day.

fresh apple cider

I should title this post, Rocking the Crock Pot, since I have put it into overdrive the past few days. I made onion soup, greens twice, and chicken soup, all in the past week. There’s lots of good stuff in the fridge to make quick meals all of next week.

I have gotten where I don’t even measure much anymore when it comes to greens. Just cut them up, add onions and garlic, some broth, balsamic and salt and pepper. If I feel adventurous, I will put in some bacon, but not always. The first batch the other day had bacon.

greens ready to go

Yesterday, I just put in all the greens I had, with a container of black bean soup. Didn’t look that great, but cooked down beautifully. It will be a side dish tonight. Today I am slow cooking lamb in the oven, and roasting beets at the same time. This is the baker’s dozen of the beets I got Thursday. The big ones for a salad or two, and I am going to quick pickle the little ones with a couple of hard boiled eggs.

beets on a bed of kosher salt

I spent time yesterday and today cooking, so that tonight through Tuesday, it will be heat and serve. Tomorrow we are heading out to Sharp’s Farm to get my Halloween decorations. A hay bale, some corn stalks, some gourds and a pumpkin or two.

But, even though it is sweater weather, I found this late blooming lovely gladiolus in the side garden. Summer’s last hurrah?


Will I See You at the Farm City Celebration?

I may be a bit under the weather since getting my flu shot. Amazing how you get sick after getting your shot. But, that won’t stop me from making plans to attend some portion of the Farm Heritage Days this weekend at the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum, 12985 Frederick Road, West Friendship, MD across From The Howard County Fairgrounds.

If you want to attend something that brings together the farmers and the city residents of the county, this is the event. The Farm City Celebration overall encompasses two weeks of activities. The celebration at the Museum is a highlight. For those who really want something unique, check out the Rodeo and Bull Blast. Otherwise, come out and see the antique equipment, watch the lawn mower races, attend the bluegrass concerts, or the gospel service Sunday morning. Or the auction. I may be there looking for antique cooking items.

Plus, you can support the rest of the farms and events. There are events at Larriland, Sharp’s (which opens their corn mazes this weekend), Clarks Elioak, TLV, the Conservancy, and Days End as well as this weekend’s event at the Museum site. The pdf brochure is here.

The Fall Festival on the 6th at the Conservancy is part of the celebration.

Have you been to the County Farmers Markets? If so, and you support our local farmers, show them you appreciate them by attending events this weekend or next weekend. Or, just come support the five farmers markets in the county.


Week 21 CSA, with Twelve Deliveries Left in 2012

Four more weeks of the summer CSA. Eight weeks of the fall extension. Have I processed and frozen enough goodness to weather the winter. Let’s see what the box held today.

Sandy Spring CSA Week 21 2012

The list:

1 Bunch French Breakfast Radishes
1 Head Bok Choy
1 Bag Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 Head Green Curly Endive
1 Head Green Butterhead Lettuce
1 Bunch Yellow Chard
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 Bag Green Bell Peppers
1 Head Green Leaf Lettuce
1 Bunch Collards
1 Bag Red Beets
1 Bunch Dill (which I just had to swap to get that lovely acorn squash)

We got a baker’s dozen of the beets. And, the greens were phenomenal as usual. There will be greens in many meals the next week.

this week’s greens

The butterhead lettuce is so sweet. The green leaf is huge. Then, looking at the bok choy, which is really humongous, I need to get some ingredients to make chicken chow mein.

Dinner tonight is in the oven. I wanted something that used up last week’s items. I made a dent in them but still have lots of potatoes left. This is a simple one pot meal. Start out with greens and scallions.

There is chard, green leaf lettuce, endive and scallions with olive oil in the base here. Add tomato sauce. I used a pint jar of my homemade chunky sauce.

Put some parboiled potatoes, sliced in half, on top.

Add some local Berkshire hogs kielbasa on top. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Put in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. This kielbasa was bought at a farmer’s market in Gettysburg.

Open a bottle of light red wine and enjoy.


October Will Be Busy at the Conservancy

I just checked my schedule for October. Wow! Three events at the Howard County Conservancy, on Saturdays. Plus, for me, my volunteer hike leading for school fields trips.

The Fall Festival on October 6th from 11 am to 3 pm. This year there will be a new addition. Evelyn Mogren will be carving an owl using her chain saw. Here is a Sun story on Evelyn. The carved owl will reside in the new Natural Play Area between the goats and the barn. Admission to the Fall Festival is $10 a car.

natural play area

On October 13th, the wonder talk (instead of walk) will be on creepy creatures aka toads, worms, spiders and snakes. It starts at 10 am. This one is extremely popular, so advanced registration is recommended. Even though the wonder walks and talks are free, if the Conservancy reaches room capacity, only pre-registrants will be admitted. Nice that the programs have become so popular that attendance for many of the popular topics surpasses one hundred.

On the 20th, we will be leading another of our family hikes on the property. Again, a 10 am start. Naturalists will lead age appropriate groups. Little ones can see the animals and wander not too far from the main buildings with topics they can relate to, while adults and families with older children will go on a longer hike through the trails to the streams and through the forest.

Add to all this I see I have scheduled myself as a volunteer naturalist for five field trips with the elementary school children where I will be leading hikes. Maybe I need to go back to work to get a rest. Retirement is way too busy! But, satisfying.


One of Those Perfect Mornings

You know what I mean. The air is crisp. You slept with the windows open. The A/C has been turned off. Here in West County, we have seen temperatures in the 50s at night. Today I threw open all the windows and have the screen door in the kitchen giving us cross breezes in the back of the house.

This is my favorite cooking weather. The kitchen stays cool. It is soup and crock pot stew time. Yesterday I processed the last of the green tomatoes found hiding in the garden. There were another dozen or so that escaped notice when I was there over the weekend. I froze slices of the larger ones. They will come out in the winter to see if I can make that pesto pasta with frozen tomatoes. Some will become fried green tomatoes as a side dish.

flash frozen green tomato slices

All of the little ones and those still left on the windowsill were put together to make tonight’s dinner. I am going to make the pesto and the green tomato sauce, but put it on a whole wheat pizza crust as a variation on the pasta dish I have made numerous times. Might as well get the most out of the green tomatoes.

This morning I did a “twofer” in the food processor. Pesto and ajvar. Just enough of each to use for dinner tonight. I am making the pizza using ajvar on one side and green tomato pesto on the other. Should be interesting. If it works out, I will post pictures. If it is a bust, well, at least I will talk about it.

The pesto.

Parsley and basil combined. Some pine nuts. Parmesan. Two roasted garlic cloves. Salt and white pepper. Olive oil to make it the right consistency. Absolutely no idea how much of any of it. This is where I have fun when I cook. Creating by taste.

The ajvar, that wonderful Serbian spread I discovered a while back.

Again, no measuring. I roasted all the baby eggplant from the CSA, and three small red peppers, the other day and put them away with two roasted garlic cloves in the fridge. This morning I put them in the processor after scraping out the pesto, added balsamic and some olive oil to process, then just to see what would happen, dropped in a small handful of pistachios. Wow, what an interesting kick the nuts added to the spread.

I had my coffee on the patio and listened to the birds, particularly the blue jays who are out harassing a hawk somewhere near here. Loving the changes of color in the meadow, and seeing the first leaves turning.

the meadow in the morning


1991 Linden Cabernet

Twenty one years old. Still dark, rich and a lovely wine. Who says Virginia can’t produce stellar red wine?

1991 Linden Cabernet

We bought Linden wine for the first time in 1992 at the Virginia Wine Festival. It was then we met Jim and Peggy Law, who were producing their first vintages on their farm off I-66 east of Front Royal and just below the Appalachian Trail. We bought a couple bottles of 1989 back then, because what we tasted held great promise. The 1989 and 1990 vintages are gone from our cellar, but one lonely 1991 bought at one of the earliest visits to the winery was still down there.

the label on the Linden 1991

What is amazing is that 21 years after production, it still tastes like the description. This wine probably cost us $15 back then. Not cheap for a Virginia wine then, but I have California wines that never reached the complexity this Virginia wine has. We paired it with our monthly filet splurge. Sunday night dinner, then football. The dinner.

Filet, baked potato and salad Caprese

Mostly local with steaks from Boarman’s. The potatoes from the CSA. The tomatoes are mine, as is the basil. The mozzarella, not local, bought at David’s Natural Market.

This meal, our next to last summer challenge meal, was so satisfying because the wine stood up to the steak. No brown edges. No off odors. Really an amazingly complex, flavorful wine. The dried fruit aroma was still intense although the other descriptors were a bit faded and hard to find. The taste was still there, though. A long finishing wine. The tannins has definitely softened , yet there was still structure there.

I keep saying Linden makes wines that would command twice the price if they were from Bordeaux or California. Having the luxury of the cellar allows us to be patient and enjoy the wine’s development over time. Glad we opened this one last night. Too bad it is the last of that vintage. I had brought up a bottle of ’99 in case the ’91 wasn’t still good. Looks like the ’99 will get put on the shelf for a while longer.

Now, the oldest Linden wines we still have are the 1997 reserve. Three left. This winter we will have to try one to see how they are doing.

Hello Fall, Farewell Summer

It was warm today, those last Indian Summer days are upon us. Still, the markets and my garden reflect the change of the season. Stone House bakery had apple dumplings at the Glenwood market today.

apple dumplings at the farmers market

I think it’s great they list love as an ingredient. I did buy one last gasp summer fruit today. A watermelon from TLV.

It will become a watermelon, mint and feta salad tomorrow, and the rest pureed to freeze for watermelon margaritas on the coldest day this winter. If it isn’t summer, we can still pretend.

I whacked down the last of the basil today. The monster basil plants that kept growing.

Some of these plants had stems that reminded me of serious shrubbery.

But the bees really loved the flowers as these plants went to seed.

I did some productive pruning and salvaged a small glass full of cuttings. I have two more ripe tomatoes, and some mozzarella. Definitely caprese salad material here. It may not look pretty but it tastes great.

I stopped at Gorman Farms yesterday after a trip to drop off our pickup. The passenger window gave up the ghost and refused to work. In the down position of course. Parsley and the last of the sun gold tomatoes looked wonderful. The parsley will become pesto with the last of the basil. The tomatoes. Those are candy. We eat them right out of the box.

parsley from Gorman farm stand

Loving that change in weather, with the change in fruits and veggies. My favorite time of year.


Wanna Do Something Fun Tonight?

How about a twilight hike and s’mores around a campfire? Story telling, too! The Howard County Conservancy is offering a twilight hike on the grounds, ending up at a campfire where you can roast marshmallows and make s’mores while listening to stories around the fire. Bring flashlights to light the way back to the main building after the hike.

on the trail near the campfire site at HCC

A great Friday evening family offering. Check out the details on the Upcoming Events page.

The weather should be beautiful tonight. Lows in the 60s. Crisp and mostly clear. One of those special fall days that make us remember why we love living in Howard County.

night sky in the fall


Week 20, CSA Goodies Continue to Roll In

You know you need serious help when you take 100 pictures of your CSA box, just to get the one you want to post. Thank goodness for digital photography. You can click away to your heart’s content and delete like mad leaving only the good ones.

Today’s goodness!

Sandy Spring CSA Week 20

The list:

1 Bag Green Okra (which I swapped for more collard greens)
1 Bag Baby Eggplants
1 Bag Red Roma Tomatoes
1 Bag Garlic
1 Bunch Collards
1 Head Bok Choy
1 Bunch Dinosaur Kale
1 Head Green Leaf Lettuce
1 Bunch Green Komatsuna
2 Leeks

What is komatsuna, you ask? One of those amazing vegetables you would only get in a CSA box, and it really is a great vegetable. Very versatile. Very good for you. I added some chopped leaves to chicken soup I heated up for dinner tonight. The rest will find their way into a stir fry with that humongous bok choy. I have to say, these three in the picture below are items I never would be buying in a store.

komatsuna, bok choy and leeks

Tomorrow I will break out the crock pot again and make all those lovely collards with Italian sausage and some of my tomato sauce. They will grace the table a few times this weekend. I love collards with pork and tomatoes, and a little garlic.

Yikes! Another four pounds of Roma tomatoes. I thought tomato season was over. Apparently not in PA, it isn’t. So, one more round of blanching and freezing. I should never have to buy tomatoes this winter. The freezer will be full of them. And, baby eggplant. How cute. And, garlic. More garlic to roast and spread on bread.

This is such a great basket of goodies this week. So many of my favorites. Who knows what I will cook?


That First Hint of Fall

Fall is definitely coming. We will hit lows in the 40s sometime this week. I harvested all the tomatoes left in the garden.

the last of the heirlooms

One lonely ripe red fig. A few yellow plums from the ground, where they fell. All the others were green, and will become one more dinner of green tomato pesto pasta, for the little ones. The larger ones will be cut, cored and sliced to freeze. Deep in the winter, I will do my fried green tomato dinner. They fry best when taken directly from the freezer, coated and fried.

The leaves are starting to fall. The wet weather yesterday has them glistening on the deck. Won’t be long until we are sucking up leaves and turning them into compost.

the cherry tree drops leaves earliest

I filled the hummingbird feeder with lots more nectar than normal. I have three hummingbirds that regularly visit. Mom, Dad and a baby girl. The baby was there again this morning, as usual when the camera was inside. She nails that nectar.

The trees and shrubs are full of berries, and acorns on the oaks. You can’t walk in the yard without crunching acorns beneath your feet. The animals are gathering nuts and the birds are feasting on the berries. The crab apples will keep the berries all winter, and attract flocks of cedar waxwings.

Fall is my favorite time of year here, even though I will be busy cleaning up the yard and filling bags to use in our compost, with the extra going to a master gardener that we connected with. We used the rake and take program in the county to do this. We make bags of leaves and bags of grass clippings, then mix the two to get the green/brown ratio. Using the bags over and over until they finally fall apart makes this a fairly less back breaking exercise. We rake everything into a long snaky line, then efficiently and quickly vacuum the yard under our oak, maple and cherry trees.

Vacuuming leaves to turn into compost

I am also keeping an eye on the herbs. The thyme and rosemary will hang in there for quite a while. The basil is giving up the ghost, so to speak and all will be harvested today. I saw the last of the plants drooping over this morning while I was collecting acorns for the Conservancy to use in their critter creations at the Christmas craft fair. I have a carpet of thyme on the ground. I may cut it back and cover the rest, to see how long it stays viable.

Let’s just hope we don’t get snow for Halloween like we did last year.

October 29, 2011