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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Adventures in Food

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Micro Radishes. Something new in the CSA box.

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Things like these micro radishes are the reason we love belonging to a CSA. Little surprises, of items we never encountered, except maybe in fancy restaurants once or twice.

My husband really loves radishes, so these little gems are radish taste on steroids. Really spicy and peppery. Perfect scattered on top of a salad, or as a bed for tuna. Tonight on a salad.

What else did we get from Lancaster Farm Fresh, the Amish co-op that supplies our CSA.

2 yellow straightneck squash – Outback Farm
1 pack microradishes – Eastbrook Produce
1 bunch sweet onions – Sweetaire Farm
1 head broccoli – Twin Pines Organics
1 bunch mint – White Swan Acres
1 bunch red beets – Farmdale Organics
1 bunch orange carrots – Freedom Acres
1 bag mustard – Organic Willow Acres
1 head escarole – Windy Hollow Organics
1 bag baby lettuce mix – Elm Tree Organics
1 bunch English thyme – Noble Herbs
1 quart new red potatoes – Plum Hill Organics

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Yes, asparagus is not on the list, but a half share member was there putting it in the swap box when I got there. I grow English thyme, so mine went in the box for those lovely asparagus spears.

This week’s box is showing us that summer is coming, what with the yellow squash and those gorgeous onions.

I like getting twelve items, of reasonable quantity. The beets will go quickly, and the carrots and the broccoli. I need to find something creative to do with the baby mustard greens. And, escarole. Not my favorite, but I will find something in the recipe blogs to use it up.

Field Day is this weekend. Most of the greens will end up in a salad I will be taking up to the site for Sunday lunch.

CSAs are gaining in popularity in this area. Currently, Sandy Spring, Breezy Willow Farm, Love Dove Farm, Gorman Farm, One Straw Farm, Zahradka Farm all deliver to the county. Along with Friends and Farms.

Check them out and let me know of others in the area.


Think Small

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Small business, that is. This week is National Small Business Week. Established 50 years ago by President Kennedy. According to statistics (I believe they are from the SBA), 2 out of 3 jobs in the USA are in the small business sector.

As a locavore and locapour, most people know that I enthusiastically support small businesses. An article I just read today published by Forbes suggests things to do in your community to support your small businesses. I am going to piggyback on that list and generate my own.

For small business week, pick one of the following and resolve to do it.

1. Go to a local restaurant or bar, instead of a chain. Like the Rumor Mill, where Tom Coale announced his candidacy last night. A local restaurant owned and operated by local people.

2. Go to one of the Howard County Farmers Markets this week, or buy something from a local farm stand.

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3. If you are going to grill for 4th of July, buy your grilling meats from Treuth, Boarman’s, Clark’s, Mt. Airy Meat, Breezy Willow, TLV Tree Farm, or one of the other local farms, like Copper Penny in Hanover.

4. Buy or order something from a local business, like Crunch Daddy, Cosmic Bean, Pfefferkorn, Thai Spices, Bowling Green, Breadery, Great Harvest.

5. Support your local wine and beer suppliers, buying MD or VA wines or beers.

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6. Use your local hardware stores, like Clark’s, Kendall’s, or Burtonsville Ace.

Next month is the Buy Local Challenge, for MD. This week is a good warm up to participate in that 9 day long challenge. And, for that challenge, you can come out to the Conservancy with your local picnic and be eligible for prizes for the best picnic.

Details —

JUL 20-28- Buy Local Challenge- Join the Conservancy as we support local farmers and celebrate the Maryland”Buy Local” Challenge when local produce is booming at the end of July. Participate two ways –

First Way — Enter individually to join the statewide program, attempting to eat at least one local item every day during the challenge period of July 20-28 2013.

Register at

This year’s challenge-theme is a “Take Local Outdoors” contest to win $200 by taking pictures of your outdoor meals and submitting them on the Buy Local Challenge page.

Second Way — Double your fun! Join the “Conservancy Team”, in a parallel event on the last afternoon of the challenge on Sunday, July 28th from 2-5 PM. Prepare your favorite LOCAL picnic foods for your own picnic, and enjoy them in the Conservancy’s picnic grove with many of our local farmers and producers. We will be giving 2 prizes: one for the best local picnic spread (meal and/or snacks), and the other for the best picnic dessert. Local farmers and producers are the judges. And, of course, if you want to come picnic with all of us without entering the state contest, just bring your best locally made dishes and join the party. Register for the date at

Or, in other words, get out there and support your neighbors!


My First Political Fundraiser

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For thirty years working in acquisition for the Feds, I wasn’t really encouraged, or inclined, to get into the local political scene. Mainly because it was frowned upon, and because I spent so much time out of the area, i.e., in DC, that I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Now that I am retired and pay way too much attention to local politics 😉 I was interested in attending a fellow blogger’s kickoff party for his political campaign.

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Tom Coale. HoCoRising for those who follow the local blogs. Tom picked the Rumor Mill in Ellicott City to make his announcement. Thankfully Claire from ukdesperatehousewifeusa, another local blogger took some pics and posted them. I didn’t drag my camera out in the rain, and my better half had the smart phone with him.

Tom is running for state delegate in a newly redistricted 9B.

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I first met Tom when he hosted a get together after a fundraiser to pay security deposits for Living in Recovery homes. I also took quite a bit of stuff over to their house when they were putting together a truckload of items to deliver to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

We see each other at HoCoBlogs events, and like most of us involved in writing about life in Howard County, exchange comments and emails regularly.

I think Tom is one of those dedicated, inspired, head and heart in the right place individuals who truly cares about his home state. He would be a very good choice to go to Annapolis.

Best of Luck, Tom, even though you aren’t running in my district.


Bless Your Pea-Pickin Heart

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Credits to Tennessee Ernie Ford.

I love fresh peas. Love when we get them in the CSA box. I shelled all of them, including the ones from the Howard County Farmer’s Market. Shelling peas. One of those “lost” chores.

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Butler’s Orchard in Germantown has sugar snap peas and English peas in their pick-your-own fields. I am considering picking peas this week (like I really have the time with Field Day coming), before they are gone. Peas are one of those vegetables that does incredibly well when frozen. Pick them, shell them, blanch them and vacuum seal them. They retain their sweetness when picked, shelled and frozen the same day.

Larriland had cherries last weekend, but their web site says wait a few days to allow more to ripen. The other favorite summer fruit for my husband are cherries. This week they are saying strawberries for at least another week, and the beginning of red raspberry season. For those inclined to get strawberries, this is your last chance.

I need to find a few items to make for our field day luncheons. I usually do tzatziki, but the cucumbers aren’t cooperating. Last year my cukes looked like this on the 12th of June. This year, nothing but blossoms.


Have to see what we get in the CSA box on Thursday.

I also hear blueberries are coming soon to Larriland and Butler’s. Last year on 12 June we were picking.

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And, this announcement on the Larriland page. “Ripening soon will be pick your own black raspberries, blueberries, purple raspberries and beets.”

Hmmm, pickled beets anyone?


Lost and Found Sounds

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Last month a local blogger, commenting on the NPR series about lost sounds lamented those sounds from our past that have disappeared from our lives. Interestingly enough, many of the sounds she noted were ones still very much present in our lives.

Like radio static. You want radio static? Come to our house. Between the scanner and my husband’s radios, I get to hear all sorts of static.

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One of his old receivers, that he will still mess around with occasionally. As for the scanner, it is how we know what is happening, even more current than twitter or facebook, the scanner frequencies for fire and police, and the local Columbia repeater for 2 meters yield us instant info about fires, accidents, and just general stuff. The repeaters are manned by amateurs doing Skywarn during storms like we had Thursday.

Children playing. Out here we always hear our neighbor’s little ones outside, laughing and running around, or riding their bikes. There are always wiffle balls or tennis balls in our field. Errant tosses while they are enjoying the sunny days.

We left behind the sirens and helicopters of Columbia, and gained tractors, birds, roosters and SILENCE. Sometimes here it is the silence that amazes us the most. Dark, quiet evenings.

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Full moon. Some evenings I would wait outside looking at the stars and hearing nothing, waiting for my husband to get home from a meeting. Looking for the deer. Or watching a satellite in the sky. No sounds. Just complete silence, and a car every three or four minutes.

Who knew what noise squirrels make? We have learned. Between the squirrels, the rabbits and the birds, I have been serenaded while having morning coffee on the patio. Of course, my all time favorite is the hawk.

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He likes to make his presence known. He and my other neighbor’s rooster. I don’t have a picture of him but you heard him all day, thankfully somewhat muted as they were about a 1/4 mile away. They have moved on, so the rooster sound has disappeared.

Last, the tractors. Not lawn mowers. Real hay baling equipment or massive tractors with drag behind cutters. These kinds of tractors. Across the street. Next door. A few times every year. Cutting hay.

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I have traded city sounds for country sounds. A slower pace. Sounds of people cutting fire wood. Muzzle loaders during deer season. Fireworks (yes, we know they aren’t supposed to have them, but believe me, there are some serious fireworks out here on New Year’s Eve and 4th of July).

I can hear the cows mooing on some mornings, from the farms across the “hollow”.

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I don’t miss all the traffic noise, the Medevac helicopters heading over the house many nights every week, the police helicopters occasionally. Sounds of the city.

I am much happier and less stressed even when the pileated woodpeckers get noisy.

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Another Lovely Day in Our Neighborhood

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The ham radio neighborhood. The annual open house out in Glenwood at W3LPL. My husband goes every year. This is my first visit, although we have been to the house many times as they are neighbors and friends, I usually avoided the alpha male picnic where they all come out and wish they had the time and land and resources to assemble Amateur Radio Utopia.

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There are ten towers. The basement has enough room, and power, to handle all the major frequency bands and modes simultaneously. This is a major radio contest site, owned by a fellow amateur radio operator in the same local club as my husband.

A local catering company specializing in pit beef, pulled pork and turkey sandwiches sets up shop. The club donates water, soda, iced tea, and beer. “Hams” from all over the country (and overseas) come every year. This year the guest book had 105 entries. Some were couples and some, like us, forgot to sign. So, probably 125-150 people there. The caterer sold over 100 sandwiches and platters.

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Members of Potomac Valley Radio Club, Columbia Amateur Radio Club, National Capitol DX Association and who knows how many other clubs, all came together to eat, drink, socialize and take a tour of the towers and station.

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Now that we are retired, and my husband attends many functions, dinners, luncheons, contests, meetings, field day, whatever, we know quite a few people. I talked to dozens of spouses and some of the operators from field day.

Field Day is next weekend. Planning going like crazy. I will be cooking again for the 80-100 operators and support staff that make this contest one of the largest supported efforts in the USA. This year the club is trying to be rated 28Alpha. That means 28 simultaneous transmitting stations all operating on generator power.

Field Day is an annual event that allows radio amateurs to train and operate using methods that might be needed during disasters. Disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Cell towers get overloaded, or come down.

The local clubs can put up crank up towers and relay info to Emergency Operations Centers, or help with non-emergency communications between support efforts at disasters. Keeping the emergency communication channels uncluttered.

Columbia Amateur Radio Association supports Howard County’s EOC. They get reports from hams, on the road and at home, during and after events like the derecho last year, and the hurricanes.

This year, again, Howard County is sending one of their really cool emergency vehicles out for people to tour during our Field Day Weekend. When the club puts up ten crank up towers in the fields, and operates.

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If you want to see something really fascinating, head out to Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School next Saturday or Sunday, the 22nd and 23rd. You can even have your little ones operate the radios on our Get On The Air (GOTA) station. They could talk to someone in Alaska or Hawaii.

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All in all, today was a fun reunion. The kick off to our summer season of radio contests and our social events. Can’t wait for the fowl fest, the crab feast and the other picnics. Oh, and nothing like a day with towers and tractors.

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73 de AnnieRieXYL


The Wild Wild West #HoCoMD

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At least sometimes it feels wild, but isn’t so.

Yesterday, we had storms, wind, sun, fire, and life just is interesting here in the western part of the county. We did agonize a bit about whether to take the tower down, in anticipation of the storms.

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Without five people, this wasn’t happening, so we just decided to ride it out. In the morning, the major storms passed us by to the north. We could see them coming but they were just above us. A good thing, so far. Then, we heard massive amounts of sirens just as I was going out for gas and ice. I figured if I bought ice, nothing would happen.

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Turns out there was a grease fire at Ten Oaks Tavern. All sorts of fire trucks everywhere at the Glenelg/Dayton circle. I picked up what I needed and came home to find a tornado warning. OK, this is way too much excitement for one day. This time, the severe weather passed ten miles south of us, below Olney.

We never lost power, had about an inch of rain, no real wind or damage. Compared to last year, this year’s derecho was a no show. Well, at least the flowers are loving all the rain.

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I have to admit, living out here in the rural districts has its advantages and disadvantages. Still, that “lure of the land”, the reason we moved here, still makes it all worth while, to fill the tubs with water, bring in the furniture, get ready to possibly bail out the sump pump when the power goes off, and all those other little things to weather the storms.

And, my tomatoes are loving the weather. Should have tomatoes in a few weeks. Cucumbers, too.

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Week Four Sandy Spring CSA Delivery to Columbia PickUp

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Week Four of the CSA. So confused with the storms and warnings, I put the wrong tag on the picture file. It is not week three.

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My weekly email arrived early this morning telling me what we were getting. Thankfully it was not raining at the time I went to Columbia to pick up my share.

Today your Full Share contains:

1 Bag English Peas- Chiques Roc Organics
1 Bunch Collards- Freedom Acres Farm
1 Bunch Garlic Scapes- Lancaster Farmacy
1 Bunch Cilantro- Noble Herbs
1 Bunch Chioggia Beets- Plum Hill Organics
1 Bunch Purple Kohlrabi- Rolling Ridge Organics
1 Bunch Red Kale- Maple Lawn Organics (OK, I swapped the kale for more scapes)
1 Head Red Romaine Lettuce- Chemical Free- Kings Produce
1 Bunch Asparagus- Coyote Run Organics
1 Head White Cauliflower- Sunny Slope Organics
1 Bunch Green Tatsoi- Red Fox Organics
1 Head Broccoli- Farmdale OR Organic Willow Acres

As you can see above, I was tired of kale at the moment and wanted more scapes to finish making pesto to freeze for next winter. This time I will be trying a new recipe. Scapes, cilantro and pistachios. More on that later this week.

Besides, I need pesto to take to the amateur radio field day next weekend. More on that later, too.

And, later tonight I might get the fire and storm post up. Can’t say it is boring here.

This week, though, I was thrilled with our CSA box. I have already used some broccoli, cauliflower and the red romaine for tonight’s salad.

My husband really loves getting those veggies that are perfect in salads. And, we are really thrilled to see the beets, the kohlrabi and the English peas. Oh, and asparagus for the third time. We can never have too much asparagus.

Plans? Kohlrabi and apple slaw. Roasted beets for salad. The pesto. Steamed peas with fresh mint from the garden.

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The herbs are getting quite robust, with all this rain.

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I also have ideas for things to do with the beet greens and the kohlrabi greens. There may be a frittata this weekend.


Monarchs in the Milkweed?

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Last fall I blogged about finding milkweed in the meadow. Now, I can say that my wish that maybe monarchs will be hatching here comes closer to reality.

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I think I found a monarch larvae here. The milkweed is flourishing. Other butterflies love it.

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Like this great spangled fritillary. And, of course, the bees.

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Looks like a bumble bee.

All in all, a good day in the meadow.

Now, to save that monarch from the predatory birds.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

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Or maybe I should title this post, cut the grass before it rains again. Remember this pic from yesterday?

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All that rain. Today it dried up enough in most of the front yard to cut it.

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Except we still can’t go down into the hollow below the guardrail, where it is still soggy.

We went off to Pennsylvania today. Our annual “Check Out the Cemetery” trip. To see if any maintenance needs to be done on my in laws’ graves. It was still raining up there, and I still get slightly weirded out by those “windmills”.

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A few years ago, they appeared on the hillside behind the cemetery. Including the one just the other side of the fence from my inlaws’ gravesites.

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We did have to make a side trip to get authentic kielbo from the local vendor.

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Interesting, though, it ended up not as garlicky as my husband remembered it. Still, it was the basis for dinner tonight.

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We took the back way home to stop at Peters.

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Some strawberries, English peas, high tunnel cherry tomatoes. There weren’t any shoo fly pies, unfortunately.

Then, home to cut the grass, and cherish that sunshine to eat out back while enjoying the view.

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Hope the weather stays nice.