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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Gardening As …

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… circuit weight training and more.

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It took me seven hours total yesterday and today to plant the 40+ tomato plants in the garden. I say 40+ because some of the plugs had more than one stem. All told, there were four dozen plants, but some of them were so intertwined they went into the same planting hole. Between digging the holes, adding the organic fertilizer and soil amendment, planting the plants, shoveling in the topsoil and then finishing off the entire garden in mulch, I am wiped out.

If you want something better to do than walking a treadmill at a gym, plant a garden. Add to all my other tasks, horsing around a 200 foot hose to water it all.

Two months from now I will be blessed with lovely yellow, orange and red tomatoes that will grace our table.

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Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow, even in a container. Add a container of basil and instant salad. Plant a few flowers in your yard. Weed by hand, instead of by pesticide. Just that little activity to water and weed and fertilize is one amazingly easy way to keep your metabolism elevated. I know it works for me.

Now, I just need the patience to wait two months to get tomatoes. And, keep watering, weeding and caring for my plants. Sounds like much more fun than circuit weight training.

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The Perfect Pairing – Wine and Food

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Wine in the Garden. At the Howard County Conservancy. Coming this Thursday night. I just saw the menu and the paired wines that will be poured. What I love most about this evening is how the caterers and the wine vendors select those perfect matches to serve. And, of course, the gardens.

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Listen to some of these pairings.

New Orleans BBQ shrimp with cheddar cheese grits, would go very well with the Loire Valley Vouvray.

Cucumber cups filled with salmon mousse served with a lightly oaked Central Valley CA Chardonnay.

Or, what would you like with Mussels Provencale? Red or white. Chardonnay or Pinot Noir from Sonoma. They are serving both.

Crab dip. You will have to get me away from that caterer. I love crab dip. Depending on the spice, the Vouvray or the Chardonnay will work, as will some of the exotic wines from Far Eastern Shore Winery of MD.

Jerk chicken kebabs. Definitely a slightly sweeter choice. Maybe a Linganore wine, or the blush styled wine from Far Eastern Shore.

Shrimp salad. Chicken salad. Pasta salads. The list goes on and on. This isn’t a measly set of choices here. I saw at least 15 items including a bruschetta bar, and one I am intrigued with. Spicy shrimp cilantro cups.

Lots of dessert choices in there too. Red wine and chocolate meet your fancy. There is a blended red being poured. A blend of zinfandel, syrah and cabernet. A caterer is bringing cake bites. Something small, sweet and you can experiment with all sorts of different wine pairings.

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If you haven’t signed up yet, there is still time. Or, come pay at the door. The party is from 5-8 on Thursday the 23rd. The silent auction has some cool wine and food items too. I saw that they have a private tour and tasting for eight people at Black Ankle Winery. Now that’s a great night out.

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See you there?

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Le Jardin

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It’s Sunday morning in the neighborhood. The sky is misty. The plants are happy. A Sunday report on the state of my garden, and of the Brighton Dam azalea garden.

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We stopped at Brighton Dam today on our way to Boarman’s to get fennel. They didn’t have any and we had to go to Harris Teeter, but that’s another post. The azaleas are past peak. Still pretty out there, but azaleas are over the hill. The cormorants were out in full force though.

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As you can see, there are splashes of color but way past prime viewing season.

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My herb garden is going nuts. Check out the large number of chive blossoms. Edible, tasty, pretty too.

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And, of course, the mint, which is essentially a weed. Can’t kill it. Spreads like crazy. This one has been in the same container for five years. For the life of me, I can’t remember which variety it is. It comes back every spring.

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As for my non edible garden, we got our first white rhododendron this year. Never saw one before now. The rhodie are doing well. With lots of new growth and more blooms than I thought.

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Plus, these flowers have never appeared before. Sometimes I wonder where in the world they come from. There are about a dozen of them out there now. I believe they are a type of iris. Any suggestions?

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Finally, too, the tangelo azalea has bloomed. Not as much as other years but still awesome.

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In terms of the pleasure we get from our flowers, shrubs and trees, it is well worth the effort I put into keeping them healthy.

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In Glenwood It’s All Good

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Saturday farmer’s market in Glenwood. I missed the first week but made it out there today. The market has three new vendors. One, Misty Meadows, had ice cream, milk and cheese.

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Misty Meadows will be in Glenwood once a month, but for those craving fresh milk, they also come to the hospital market on Fridays. The other new vendor is Pleitez Produce, up from Montross VA. What is so great about having a VA farmer here is how early they get veggies in, compared to us. It is great because it lengthens the season. Today they had strawberries and rhubarb, and cucumbers and little greenhouse grown cherry tomatoes.

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In this picture, Pleitez is behind Great Harvest. Great Harvest had those incredible croutons there today. The ones I picked up at Breezy Willow with my CSA the other day. I got some rhubarb and large spring onions from Pleitez.

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The third new vendor is Thai Spices. I have already written about them from buying curries at Miller library market. They will be at all the markets.

I talked a while with RJ Caulder of Breezy Willow, and she said they are definitely adding more vendors to each market to make them more diverse. I see on the market web page that Elk Run Vineyard will be coming once a month in June July and August. Great to see the expansion of our markets.

I did a small amount of shopping. Cucumber plants to replace the ones the bunnies decided to sample.

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We need to expand the bunny fencing as the little ones are squeezing through the deer fence. Today was a three bunny day.

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Not very clear but then they were playing “Ring around the house” chasing each other all over the yard. Where is the fox when you need it? Seriously. They are getting into all my stuff even if they don’t like it. They chomp it off and leave it.

I got buttermilk cake to serve with berries and some of this lovely ice cream.

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Misty Meadows sells small cups and quarts of their ice cream. I also bought bacon from TLV. Not a bad morning. I have now been to two of the five to see what Howard County markets have this year. Check them out.

I think next week I may hit the hospital market if my husband likes this milk as well as Trickling Springs. I only got him a 12 ounce bottle today to try.

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Use Up the CSA Dinner

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In honor of Food Revolution Day, which is today. I have collected quite a few of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks over the years, and like his approach to getting people to cook. I decided tonight to share a favorite “recipe” in order to take part (unofficially) in the festivities surrounding this global event.

Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I love to cook. I enjoy doing new things with my CSA and farmer’s market finds, and we eat mostly home cooked made from scratch meals.

This is an easy favorite for us. One pan pasta “primavera”.

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You need whatever veggies look good to you that could be roasted. This time I used kale, spinach, spring onions, red onion, diced red potato and TLV Tree Farm uncured bacon. I made the entire package of bacon over the weekend. In the oven, then put away to use. It probably made its way into five or six meals. For this recipe I used four slices, cut into square pieces. I just put all the veggies on a foil lined pan, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and oregano. Put in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes, in order to get the onions and potato done.

Just before dinner I put four ounces of mixed pasta on to cook, and took out some pesto from the freezer, and those marinated mushrooms I made last week. Here is that recipe on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

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I only have one more container of pesto in the freezer. Can’t wait for garlic scapes to come in, so I can start restocking for next winter. I had some greens left from the Burtonsville Market.

This is what dinner looked like. My husband’s plate. Filling, good, easy to throw together, with about two slices of bacon as the meat in this dish.

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Pastas are simple standby meals around here. Tomato sauce or pesto from the freezer. A small amount of protein. Lots of veggies, either steamed or roasted. And, for us on a Tuesday night, it emptied the fridge of CSA veggies to make room for the Wednesday pick up.

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Two Tickets to Paradise …

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… at Wine in the Garden. So, what do Eddie Money and Howard County Conservancy have in common. Those two tickets.

Wine in the Garden is the annual fundraiser held in the Honors Garden at the Conservancy.

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Always the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. Details for tickets are here.

This year Southwest donated two unrestricted tickets to anywhere they fly in the US, worth up to $800. The Conservancy is holding a raffle of these tickets instead of putting them in the silent auction. $10 a raffle ticket. You can buy the raffle tickets in advance or at the event on the 23rd of May. Drawing the night of the event.

We love attending Wine in the Garden. I don’t volunteer to pour wine, although I do it at enough events there. This is our fun event. We buy our tickets in advance to take advantage of the discount, and spend the evening strolling around, listening to the music, tasting wine, and checking out all the small plate goodies from the caterers.

This year, too, some of the silent auction items look really intriguing. We have won a couple of items in the past. My favorite is still the reclining fold up chair that was donated by REI. Particularly love this necklace that the Conservancy highlighted on their facebook page recently.

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This year fourteen caterers are signed up. Three different suppliers of wines. Cindy’s Spirits from Elkridge is providing a selection of wines, and two Maryland wineries will be pouring their wines. Far Eastern Shore and Linganore Winecellars.

Nice to have this mix of wines. Many of the caterers bring spicy items that pair well with some of Far Eastern Shore, and Linganore has a selection of dry and sweet. You can match a wine with a food and really enjoy the variety. Like we did when we were looking for a slightly sweeter wine that would go well with shrimp.

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This event is also very popular. Hundreds of people mingle and visit. Lots of old friends of ours show up here. We run into people we haven’t seen in ages.

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Joining us there?

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Abbondanza – Spring Veggies Abound

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CSA Week Eleven from Breezy Willow, a visit to Miller Library market and strawberries from Gorman. Who needs grocery stores in spring and summer around here?

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We got:
Tuscan kale
Three beets (one is hidden)
Romaine (weighs two pounds)
Three pounds sweet potatoes
Half pound shiitake mushrooms
One pound green beans
One pound Brussels sprouts
One pound bean sprouts ( not there, I swapped)

My swap got me three more of those lovely grapefruit. Bread the Great Harvest White. This has become our favorite toast for breakfast. Reminds my husband of English muffins when toasted.

And, last but not least, those lovely eggs. This was the last delivery of eggs for early bird CSA.

I also picked up peach yogurt, Great Harvest croutons for salads and some chicken legs.

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Before hitting the CSA I stopped at Miller Library market to get a few things. Like curry to use with the chicken.

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Fresh veggies from Love Dove to pair with the strawberries. French breakfast radishes and arugula. I know, I know, there are holes in the leaves. I like seeing holes in the leaves. It means no bug died from chomping on pesticide infested veggies. If you want fresh veggies that haven’t been treated, look for holes or bugs (like corn with little happy worms).

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Organic practices. Many of our local farms follow organic practices and give you fresher than grocery store items that aren’t treated or sprayed. For less money most of the time, too.

Got my feta for the salad from Bowling Green. Was looking for short ribs from TLV but will have to wait until Glenwood on Saturday.

Between the farm stands, markets and CSAs in Howard County, you can eat quite well using grocery stores for just a few staples.

Today while out, I did a loop. I had errands in Columbia so I hit Wegmans for coffee, lemons and limes, paper goods, and shrimp. Stopped at Gorman to check out the farm and get some berries. Headed up 29 and hit Miller library before continuing out to Breezy Willow. I have all I need for the vast majority of our meals, using locally sourced items.

Salads. Meats. Stir Fry. Side dishes. Dairy (now that Misty Meadows is at the county markets). Cheese. All readily available and really fresh.

Now, what am I going to make with these lovely shiitakes?

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Strawberries at Gorman Farm Today

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I stopped by Gorman Farm today to say hi to Dave and check out the strawberries. I will have a long farm report in a few weeks once the farm stand opens but pick your own strawberries just began yesterday.

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Check their facebook page to see what days they will have strawberries. Dave told me they might not be open some days to allow for more ripening for the weekend. There was a steady stream of visitors at 2 pm when I was there.

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I didn’t pick today as I didn’t have the time to stay, and I would rather enlist my helper aka my better half to make picking go quicker. I did manage to pick up a pre-picked pint to use in a few salads since we got lots of greens in the CSA. Eight of them didn’t make it home though. This is what’s left when I got there.

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So much better tasting than those institutional strawberries at the supermarket. As for other HoCo farms with berries, not ready yet. TLV Tree Farm told me maybe two weeks. Larriland also isn’t open. Their web site says something about late May. Cold weather will do that to you.

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Back in the Saddle Again

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West County style.

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The tractor. Probably driven some weeks more than the car. At least in hours.

I used to ride the tractor more than my husband. He did the trim stuff. The weed whacking. The cleaning around trees and under bushes. I rode the tractor. Until my surgery. Since then, I haven’t been on the tractor. October 2011, the last time I cut the grass.

Today I mowed the back yard. Slowly. Carefully. But, still a big deal for me to feel like I am once again back in tune with the land where we live. I also spent lots of time planting veggies. All but the tomatoes. Tomorrow is tomato planting day. All 40 plants. I must be crazy. Or a canning, freezing fool. Twenty cages each in two sections of the garden.

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Finally, it seems we are past the cold weather. Last night I used row covers to keep the herbs safe.

Today, I spent all day out in the glorious weather getting things in the ground. So glad my surgery is behind me and I can do those things I love, like plant my garden. The cukes are in. Ten plants.

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Putting anything interesting in the garden this year? I planted Thelma Sanders squash. They need 110 days until they produce. That means babying them until September. And, Japanese white sweet potatoes, in a shady spot.

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So glad spring is finally here. Even if the rhododendron are late, as are other flowers. Spring just creeps up on us and the flowers burst forth with color.

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Wegmans, wordbones and howchow

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Say what? This title conveys my route to finding howchow and wordbones aka Dennis Lane. I am a foodie, and yes, a locavore, but still a foodie. Hunt Valley Wegmans was an amazing source of foods years ago, when we ran up and down I-83 to PA to visit my MIL.

Rumors that HoCo was getting a Wegmans sent me on a google search which led me to howchow. This post sent me to discover Tales of Two Cities, and all that lovely inside information Dennis managed to find.

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I used howchow to find restaurants and checked out a few posts about Wegmans by Dennis. A year or so later, I started blogging. I approached howchow to get linked into his web site, and he graciously helped me with links and references. I owe quite a bit to him in getting me local readers last year.

I then met Dennis at my first hocoblogs party, and we talked about many mutual friends. A week later, after my spinal fusion, I was housebound, so I read his entire blog. WOW, what I learned about living here would fill a book!

Tales of Two Cities gave me more info about HoCo than any newspapers did. For me, though, having Dennis add me to his sidebar, and help me grow my locavore/retiree/west county blog was just one of those unselfish things HoCo bloggers like he and howchow did.

This little blogging community is simply awesome. We really care about where we live and what we do. Missing Dennis’ blog will be difficult for many. Missing his close friendship is something I won’t experience as he was a new friend, but I read in their blogs about the closeness of his friendships with my fellow bloggers and I see their pain.

From my little corner of the blogosphere, I think HoCo has many talented writers who will stand up and blog more to share things all of us love about living here.

The local bloggers are wearing red this week to celebrate Dennis’ life. I have nowhere special to go but here is my “red”.

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