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Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Buy Local Challenge

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Coming up on 20-28 July. Maryland has a Buy Local Challenge the last full week of July every year. What do you have to do to participate?

It’s easy. Go to the web site and register. Pledge to eat one local item every day during the challenge. These days, eating locally is pretty simple.

Some ready made ideas. Like honey, coffee, biscotti, bread, milk, ice cream, eggs, cheeses, jams and jellies, tomatoes, fruit.

Some that require a little cooking, like corn, meat, squash, potatoes.

Yesterday, my lunch plate was full of locally grown ideas.

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The blueberries from Larriland. Arugula and salad mix from Love Dove Farms, bought at the farmer’s market. The onion in the tuna salad. The potatoes, scallions and chives in my potato salad. The goat cheese.

This year’s theme for the challenge is to Enjoy Local Foods Outdoors. Picnic items like potato salad, deviled eggs, cole slaw, sliced tomatoes and onions on burgers made with local beef.

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Bread and rolls from Stone House, or The Breadery, or Great Harvest, or Atwater’s. Bowls full of fresh berries with ice cream from Misty Meadows, bought at the Friday market.

Grilled corn on the cob, with fresh butter and spice.

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Caprese style salad, with goat cheese from Firefly Farms, or fresh mozzarella bought at Breezy Willow. They also have ice cream, fresh Trickling Springs butter, honey, yogurt that is awesome.

If you are a CSA member, it is really a snap to beat this challenge.

Or, check out the local farmstands, like Clark’s or Baugher’s or Breezy Willow.

Buy some mint. Put it in a pot. Make mojitos.

The possibilities are endless. How about peach pops made with fresh local peaches, local yogurt blended and frozen?

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Are you up for the challenge? Register now, and think about what you can do to support Maryland farms and businesses.

And, come to our picnic on the 28th at the Howard County Conservancy. More on that later this month.

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The Blue(berry) Plate Special

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Lunch after Larriland, and berry picking.

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We had considered a visit to Town Grill in Lisbon, but it was packed. So, we came home and made a salad that screams summer. More on the recipe in tomorrow’s post, but first some pictures from a busy Saturday on the opening day of blueberry picking season.

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No matter where you looked there were cars and people. Families, couples, singles, we heard all sorts of languages, too. Lots of people picking blueberries and tart cherries. We did see cars over in the strawberry fields, for what ended up being the last day for strawberries.

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The black raspberries need a few more days to ripen. We will be heading out there Tuesday or Wednesday if we hear they are ready.

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These are the black raspberries, just below some of the blueberry fields. We picked almost 6 1/2 pounds of blueberries.

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My final tally was 21 cups of blueberries. Seventeen bags in the freezer. One I gave to my neighbor and three cups in the fridge to make fresh baked goodies and to use on salads and cereal.

I also went up to the barn and got some sweet corn, and some sweet cherries. My husband is devouring the cherries but I did get two bags of a cup each, pitted and halved, to freeze. The rest. Being eaten every chance we get.

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Is there a better way to get your fresh fruit, than picking it and eating it that same day? Can’t wait for blackberry season.

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From CSA to Markets to Farms

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Where I shop these days. In the summer, the vast majority of my food purchases come from these three sources. The only reason I hit the grocery stores or Costco is for bulk pantry items.

Like the nuts and olive oil for pestos. I am in pesto making mode. With the basil from the CSA, and arugula from Love Dove Farm, and mustard greens and carrot tops from the CSA.

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I saved the carrot tops from both weeks of CSA, and the mustard greens from a week ago. Add some arugula and scallion tops, some garlic, slivered almonds from Costco and Pecorino Romano from Costco. I don’t measure this at all. The carrot tops and mustard greens were blanched, then rinsed, then squeezed dry. I got two one cup jars for the freezer.

Pesto is one of those forgiving recipes. Add or subtract. Substitute. Be creative. My second pesto came from the CSA basil, with almonds, pecorino, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. The simple recipe. Two or three cups of basil. 3/4 cup almonds, 3/4 cup of cheese, three garlic cloves, drizzle in the olive oil while processing. Get the consistency you want. Season with salt and pepper if you need to. Put it in air tight containers, cover in olive oil. Refrigerate or freeze.

Pesto in the winter is a wonderful thing.

Next venture today was fava bean and halloumi.

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On the right, the fava beans in their pods, after blanching. Take them out and they are still in their wrinkled shells. Shell them and use them in all sorts of ways. This is one of my favorites.

I did not take pictures. Mine don’t look as good as that. I buy my halloumi at Roots Market. Had mint from the CSA. I used peas I got from Love Dove. They were snap peas but I shelled them.

Tomorrow we are hitting Larriland for the first day of blueberry picking. There will be pounds of berries brought home, cleaned and frozen, with some left out to enjoy. I just used the last of what I picked in 2012.

In the summer, hit the markets, the farms, join a CSA and the only thing you buy at the store may be toilet paper. And, other non food items. Really. We have an amazing variety of fresh foods here in Howard County.

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Why I Like This CSA

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Week Six. It’s the unusual veggies that make my day, when the email comes and things like this are in the list.

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Fava Beans. Something you rarely see around here. I have a great recipe for grilled halloumi with fava beans and mint. It will be part of dinner tomorrow night.

The Complete List:

1 pack microradishes – Eastbrook Produce
1 bag green beans – Healthy Harvest Organics
1 bag fava beans – Bellview Organics
1 bunch chioggia beets – Plum Hill Organics
1 bunch blue hyssop – Lancaster Farmacy (swapped)
1 bag white cucumbers – Liberty Branch Organics
1 bunch carrots – Red Fox Organics
1 bunch sweet basil – Noble Herbs
1 head broccoli – Organic Willow Acres
1 slicing cucumber – Valley View Organics
1 bunch red kale – Sunny Slope Organics
1 bunch fresh red onions – Windy Hollow Organics

The total package:

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I also love the white cucumbers. A treat we get once or twice a summer. And, those microradishes. And, that lovely bunch of very fragrant basil.

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I am tempted to try and make pickles with the white cucumbers, but they are so good and so crunchy that they won’t make it into the pickling crock. I still have a week or two for my planted pickling cukes to produce. Lots of greenery and yellow blossoms, just a few tiny cukes out there.

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Transitioning from spring veggies to summer ones, and anticipating those first tomatoes. Tomorrow I will be putting together a post about what I have been doing with the CSA veggies, and maybe have pictures of my first garlic harvest. I think the garlic is ready to be dug out of the ground.

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Weathering the Storms

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All of them. Thunderstorms. Rain. Wind. Political. Seems to be a busy week around here. And then some.

Did you know we were almost 3 inches above normal for rainfall in west county so far this year? That would be a good thing, for our wells, but a bad thing these days for my tomatoes. They are way behind when it comes to blossoming and ripening. The good thing is the fact that I don’t have to water the garden. The bad thing is the yellowing of the vines from too much water.

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I know this is affecting the farmers. I see our emails from CSAs about what we can get. And, how far behind the crops are. Last year I had cucumbers. This year. Not even close. Maybe in a week or so.

I also only have a few small cherry tomatoes on my plants. Lots of blossoms. No real production. Should be interesting when the county fair rolls around, to see what survived.

I have blogged often about the stormwater fees too. Nice to see that they are somewhat on hold while assessments are made. I have seen lots of stories and lots of comments.

Like the Green Central Station update.

And, hocorising had a good piece, but with an interesting comment from a reader of his blog calling us names out here in west county. So much for civility and #summerofneighbors. Now, we are bullies.

Just a little clarification, though, from my perspective. Yes, many of us out here have more impervious surfaces. But, as a percentage of land, it is minuscule compared to what we had when we lived in Columbia.

My fee for stormwater would have been $30 when I lived in the townhouse. A house on a cul-de-sac. 100% of our stormwater went into swales or drains that emptied into a stormwater management pond that when it was full, drained off into a stream that fed the Patuxent. With a $30 fee, do you think I would have been really gung-ho to spend money to mitigate the run off?

Out here, we were going to be assessed $165 for our 5500 square feet of impervious surface, none of which enters any streams, drains or ponds. A large fee, with property that does not impact the Bay. Lots of our neighbors facing even higher fees because of the length of their driveways. But, we have no curbs. No drains. No streams within a mile.

Out here, water is precious. Without it, our wells run dry in drought years. Plus, if the farmers’ ponds run dry, it affects irrigation and the health of their livestock. Not to mention the fact that those ponds out here are a large source of water if you have a fire. No hydrants for the fire trucks. Finally in the past few years they have put in underground tanks to store water for fire fighting.

If you have ever replaced a well, or dealt with problems with your well, you would understand better why we resent being taxed for something most of us don’t do. Which is encourage run off. Price the cost of drilling a new well and you will see why.

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Our current well is 487 feet deep. Just this exercise, when the wire to the pump shorted out due to nicks and cuts and had to be replaced was an eye opener as to expense. I don’t want to have to drill another, deeper well to find water. We are very careful about keeping our ecosystem healthy. The trees, the meadows, the grading, all of the contributors that help us retain water.

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It is lovely out here, even when it storms. And, we are not bullies. Many, many of us are stewards of the land, and we care deeply about it. I have to admit, it annoyed me to be called a “bully”.

Thanks, Greg Fox, for caring about the farmers, the long time residents and everyone else, including us, that live out here in wide open spaces, lovely spaces, even with all the rain.

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Fiddlers and Fireflies

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This Thursday night.

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Description from the Conservancy Web Site.

JUN 27- Thursday 6-9pm Fiddlers and Fireflies- Bring your family and picnic dinner to the Conservancy as Fiddlers and Fireflies, one of our most popular programs, returns this summer. As the fireflies begin to flicker in the tall grasses around the property at Mt. Pleasant, listen to great performers of fiddle music, Steve Hickman’s band, who have electrified audiences for close to thirty years. Children and adults alike will join in the dancing with the fiddles and the fireflies. Kids will also learn interesting facts about fireflies and are invited to make a firefly craft. Bring your own picnic blanket or chairs $10/car

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Last year the crafts tables were really popular. Making fireflies, coloring activities, other crafts. Along with the picnicing and dancing.

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As you can see, the little ones were the first ones up enjoying the music. And, last year a surprise visit from one of the two goats who are part of the Conservancy “family”, being friendly and getting fed leaves by the children.

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Lots to do. Great music. A bargain for a family at $10 a car to cover the musicians’ fee. Even a bargain for a couple, or a group of friends, who could set up their picnic anywhere on the hillside and listen to the music while watching the sunset and look for the fireflies to come out. Or, maybe play a game of catch. This is one of my favorite summer traditions.

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Givers and Takers

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This weekend I spent time with loads of givers. People who give of their time, their investment, their heart, soul, money, you name it. I am so amazed at the passion and dedication of my fellow “hams” and their spouses and families.

There have been calls for this to be the #summerofneighbors by a local Columbia blogger. Where you connect with your neighbors and post it on twitter. I would think I could overload twitter with the sheer volume of “neighborliness” found in the amateur radio community.

Look at this picture.

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Filled with givers. Father and son. Jon and Dave. Others who were there from beginning to end.

I look at the food board. Full of contributions from wives and families.

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And, there are club members like Dave, checking in even while attending family weddings.

I heard conversations over the weekend about other community events. Bike race support. Non profit board meetings. The next big radio contest where we will be using the national call sign to represent the US in an international competition.

Here in our hobby, long time leaders teaching new volunteers. Like Maurice teaching Melanie.

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Getting the newer members interested and active in our organization is something we know is important to our continued success.

When we look at what we accomplished, another successful, safe and enjoyable event, we realize it is all because we are surrounded by Givers. Not Takers. Not people who sit on the sidelines and criticize or expect something for nothing. GIVERS!

I blogged last year how I thought the motto on those bumper stickers “Choose Civility” didn’t go far enough. You really need a community mindset to make a difference.

CARA and PVRC exhibit this every year for this national event. People give time, money, and passion to make it successful. I realize now, after a few years of volunteering, that I can look at all the pictures and I know the names of everyone in them. Isn’t that what neighborly really means? Is just going somewhere a neighborly thing?

Isn’t immersion in your community to the extent that you know the people, know their children’s names, know their food preferences, their favorite things, important?

Are you a giver? Or, someone watching on the sidelines? Step up. Find your passion. Invest in Howard County. Your home.

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