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Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane … On White Bread

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Combining two goals. The Buy Local Challenge and my Sixty@Sixty goal.

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Yes, I know white bread is highly processed. Tell that to my mom who fed us Hauswald’s bread every day. Toast. PB&Js and those lovely tomato sandwiches aka “mater sammiches” (when you were four years old).

When in Royal Farms the other day to get ice for the trip to the Amish farm and money from the ATM, I saw that loaf of Hauswald’s and also thought of a blog post somewhere about simple tomato sandwiches, like we ate as children.

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Hauswald’s was a staple in our house growing up. 75% of my heritage is German. We lived in a mostly German American community in west Baltimore. And, tomatoes? We loved tomatoes all summer. In everything we could make.

Heck, yesterday for breakfast I made toast and spread this on it.

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Another local company, based in Frederick, with all sorts of old recipes recreated. Do you like pickled beets? Apple butter? All memories of my growing up.

As for the Buy Local Challenge, today, like most days included large amounts of locally sourced items. Like the milk for my husband’s cereal.

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Bought at the Hospital Farmer’s Market Friday.

And, the wine at dinner tonight.

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The new winery outside of Frederick. They only sell whites at the moment. Reds will be coming soon, and the winery will open next year. We bought this bottle in Frederick last week. Grape growers are farmers, too!

We had local foods at breakfast, lunch and dinner today. I didn’t cook much either. Simple local foods, as I said, it isn’t hard to support local farms.

Today we ate:
Milk, at breakfast.
Tomatoes, yogurt, beets, cucumbers and greens at lunch. The cucumber became that dill pickle in my crock.

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Sheep’s milk cheese on the flatbread at dinner. The sheep’s milk cheese was from Breezy Willow. Pesto from CSA veggies (carrot tops, radish greens, arugula and scallion tops). The last container from the freezer from last year.

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The rest of dinner was chicken/feta/spinach sausage bought at The Common Market in Frederick, which was baked on top of CSA onions, peppers and pattypan squash. They were drizzled with olive oil, and had nothing but salt and pepper on them.

Simple. Delicious.

Eating locally is easy around here.


A Visit to an Amish Farm

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My second pot luck luncheon at the farms. My husband’s first. Today we drove to Christiana PA to attend one of the pot luck picnics at a member farm of Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop. This non profit cooperative supplies our CSA.

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Most of us arrived by car to picnic in the barn. The barn was being used, just in case of rain. Some of us arrived by buggy.

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There were quite a few cooperative member families who came to have lunch, talk to us, share their passion for locally grown food, and just create that bond. They had cloth bags for sale at the coop store today.

My favorite line on the bag — Don’t buy food from strangers.

We shared wonderful homemade goodies, brought by over 100 CSA members, and also provided by the Amish families in attendance. Today’s picnic was at the farm of one of the founding members of the coop. Followed by a Q&A with the managers and the farmers, then a walking tour of the farm.

After the tour, the opportunity to pick tomatoes and corn from the farm.

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My husband picked a bag of tomatoes in one of the high tunnels while I talked with the wife of one of the farmers.

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Heirloom cherries, yum!

We were also invited to come to another farm to pick up some “seconds”. Produce not good enough to put in a CSA box, but still quite wonderful. At lunch, my husband struck up a conversation with one of the farmers. He grows radicchio, Napa cabbage, purple viking potatoes, green romaine, something I can’t remember now, and Fava Beans for the coop.

Why the emphasis on fava beans. Because they gave us a box full of them from their cooler.

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These were pods with maybe one bean in them, or pods that had a cut on them. They can’t use them in the CSA, so they were at the farm. He had ten boxes left of these, and they were going to the hogs this week for food. He has given them away in the past to CSA members, but they weren’t here this year. He asked us if we wanted some. Little did we know he meant about 25-30 pounds of pods, which netted us about eight pounds of beans.

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We sat out on the patio tonight drinking a glass of local wine and shelling favas. Tomorrow I will blanch them and freeze most of them. We will use a couple of batches of them in recipes this week though.

Today was an overdose of local eating. Some people may say, “They aren’t Maryland farms” but the challenge doesn’t require the farms to be in Maryland. And, I took watermelon, feta and mint salad to the picnic. The feta was Breezy Willow feta, so I definitely had very local ingredients in my salad.

Besides, we have lovely VA and PA farms in our Howard County markets. Those of us who buy from the markets are supporting farmers from within a 100 mile radius of our homes. Even if we cross a state line here or there.

The Amish farmland is amazingly beautiful to visit. The people are wonderful. The food is awesome. When we went to pick up the fava beans, we turned down a ride in the family’s buggy. I wish we had the time to have taken it but we wanted to get home and shell all those beans before it stormed.

A perfect day to kick off the first day of Buy Local. Visiting a farm and supporting them.

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Kicking Off the Buy Local Challenge

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The challenge begins tomorrow, but for whatever reason, I kicked it off tonight with dinner.

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Lots of local goodies on this plate. Local lamb, zucchini, onions, cucumbers, and potatoes.

Paired with a Maryland wine.

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And, if you don’t cook much. Hit the local restaurants participating in the Farm 2 Table restaurant weeks.

If you want to support local farms, take the pledge. Join thousands of us eating at least one local item every day for nine days.

Heck, just go visit Maryland wineries, and hit a few farmer’s markets to support the local farmers. Like Love Dove.

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I found their new bags today at the market at the hospital. Tomorrow they are in Silver Spring, and next Wednesday at Miller Library. For me, I love getting fresh greens from their high tunnel. Today I bought arugula and spring mix. Oh, and some sun gold tomatoes since mine aren’t ripe yet. Gotta love those high tunnels.

You could eat at locally owned restaurants during the week, hit a few wineries on the weekends, come to our picnic at the Conservancy next Sunday bringing local goodies.

Or, you can get really into it, like me, the foodie/locavore/locapour and dine with locally sourced items for most meals.

We have a picnic tomorrow to attend. I will be taking watermelon, feta and mint salad. Feta picked up at Breezy Willow. Mint from my garden. The plants were bought from local farmers.

Check my blog daily for suggestions of easy ways to eat local foods, even if you don’t cook.

As for those gorgeous kebabs.

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The recipe. Take one pound of ground lamb (I buy mine from England Acres). Generously spice it with garam masala, cinnamon and pepper. Add a teaspoon of salt if your garam masala doesn’t contain salt (Spice Island is very salty; McCormick isn’t). Add about a 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion. Mix it all together by hand and form around skewers. Grill until it reaches the level of doneness you prefer. I like ours medium rare to medium. Still juicy. Serve with a tzatziki. I made this cucumber yogurt dip with dill instead of mint. It works, even though it isn’t a traditional tzatziki.


Summer CSA Week Nine — A Good Mix

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A mix of what I would call late spring and early summer veggies this week. The weather has influenced what we get.

The list:

6 ears sweet corn – Chiques Roc Organics
1 bag red tomatoes – Riverview Organics
1 bunch orange carrots – Tasty Harvest Organics
2 slicing cucumbers – Tasty Harvest Organics
1 bag pattypan squash – Twin Pines Organics
3 green zucchini – Coyote Run Organics
1 bunch yellow chard – Eagle View Organics
1 bag green bell peppers – Eagle View Organics
1 bunch green kale hearts – Peaceful Valley Organics
1 bag green beans – Healthy Harvest Organics
1 bag garlic – Eagle View Organics

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No heirloom tomatoes yet. No hot peppers. Still getting kale and chard in mid July. Interesting how the rain and the lack of really hot weather has slowed down our transition.

I never really got into the pattypan squash before but this week I think I will be roasting them using olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Simple, but supposedly really tasty.

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With seven of them, though, I may be grating and freezing some of them for future use.

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As for those carrot tops, there are varying opinions about whether you should be eating them. Breezy Willow shared a link about them recently. I use them in a pesto recipe. Since ours are organic, and not sprayed, I think that health risk is negligible, and we don’t seem to be allergic to any veggies in this house.


Five O’Clock Somewhere

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Thanks to Jimmy Buffett again for a post title.

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A refreshing use of local watermelon, frozen watermelon margarita.

It was definitely too hot to cook much, if at all, today. I actually had to water the tomatoes this morning. First time since early last month.

We blended up a nice, frosty couple of glasses of somewhat weak margaritas. I wanted the refreshing aspect and not a ton of alcohol, so this worked out nicely.

Another one of those Buy Local easy recipes. I filled the blender about halfway with watermelon. Added about three ounces of tequila, and an ounce of Cointreau Noir (all I had in the orange liqueur department). Squeezed the juice of two limes, and added a cup of crushed ice before blending.

Nothing like something fun to sip while getting dinner ready. I made a very easy dinner tonight. A cup of the potato salad I made yesterday morning. A cup of the gazpacho from the other day. A simple flatbread, made with pita bread. I did turn the oven on for ten minutes to make this.

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First I oiled the pan and placed them on it. Added a covering of fresh sheep’s milk cheese from Breezy Willow, a coating of my carrot top & arugula pesto, and sprinkled some shredded zucchini on it. A little fresh thyme, salt, pepper and a drizzle of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Baked at 350 degrees for about 7-8 minutes until the cheese was bubbling.

Served with the soup and the potato salad.

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Some FAQs

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Questions I get asked often about my blogging.

The big three –
1. What do you do with all that food?
2. Have you always cooked like this?
3. How do you find topics to write about every day?

What do we do with all the food? The simple answer, of course, is cook it and eat it. I have to admit it looks like huge amounts of food come in here every week, but really it’s just the fact that most of our food now consists of raw ingredients, which we process.

I did lots of processing today. It was too hot to go anywhere, so I got up early and processed food before it got warm in the kitchen.

Potato salad. Cucumber dip. Roasted beets. Zucchini grated and frozen for bread. Carrots blanched to freeze.

When the CSA arrives Thursday, all that will be left from last week will be a few potatoes.

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The chard will be used tomorrow with the lone remaining tomato in a frittata. As for the rest, the corn went the first night at dinner. All the beans were cooked, chopped and added to some defrosted Trader Joe’s edamame, with a quinoa/brown rice mix, to make a three bean salad. It is being eaten most days for lunch.

Potato salad I made also today to use most of the potatoes left in the bin. All those pickling cukes were added to the dill pickle crock. One of the two slicing cucumbers was used in the gazpacho with the rest of the tomatoes, and the last one became the base for that dip (tzatziki) today. The carrots, I blanched and froze, while waiting for my paste tomatoes to ripen in the garden. They will be used in tomato sauce. Like this one I made last August.

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When you eat 15-20 meals a week at home, and don’t buy frozen dinners, it is amazing how quickly you go through the raw ingredients.

We do salads for lunches most days.

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Not going to work, and having the luxury of time to cook, I have radically changed what comes into this house, and how it is cooked. No, I did not always cook like this. When commuting, I did not make things from scratch. We did too many restaurant meals, lots of take out, and frozen dinners left and right. Lots of those Lean Cuisines for lunches, too.

Now, there are no store bought frozen dinners in our freezers. Everything has been processed by me, so I can control the amount of sodium, sugar and the fats used in our foods. Big change from what we did when working in DC.

Back then, I didn’t even use my crockpot much. When you are gone for twelve hours a day, things tended to turn to mush by the time we got home. Now, dinner goes in the crockpot around 9 am, to be ready by 5 or 6 pm.

The crockpot gives us meals large enough to eat twice, and sometimes to freeze the extra. Whole chickens in the pot. Large vats of soup, or chili. These were things I did not do while working. Cooking large casseroles and freezing parts of them is another change to how I cook.

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Comparing this to those Stouffer’s meals we used to eat, I can’t believe how different our food habits are. This pan of lasagna, which I made last January, fed us for at least four dinners, and a couple of lunches on Sundays.

That last question? Blogging daily. It takes some planning to have topics. Thankfully, CSA, the garden, the cooking, the markets, the farms, the birds, our road trips, volunteering, give me lots of inspiration. Sometimes I have to go to a list I keep of potential topics.

The discipline to come down to the computer and write each evening is something I set as a goal this year. Make it be a part of each day to record some tidbit, or talk about events happening in the community. A hobby that I enjoy and that is important enough to make a priority.

Well, enough sitting here at the computer. I have to clean up quite a few pans from all that cooking this morning. And, figure out what I want to take to the CSA pot luck picnic in Amish country this weekend. Depending on what is in our basket, I may be processing something large to take to share.


Monday Meandering

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One of the true pleasures of retirement. Getting up on Monday morning and deciding “Road Trip!”.

We did have somewhat of a mission. Get to the Gettysburg outlets for work boots for my husband, and some Hanes/Bali/Leggs shopping for me. My husband really needed new boots for the outdoors work. We have always found them at the footwear outlets, since he goes through them about once a year. PA doesn’t charge sales tax on clothing, something that for years made our trips home to his family include a side trip to Bon Ton or Hess’s or Boscov’s.

Mondays at the outlets are pretty quiet. We had driven up Rte. 97 into Pa in about an hour and did our shopping. I did score something I have wanted for quite a while. A mortar and pestle. Now, I can grind spices, or make pesto the old fashioned way. I just have to find someplace to store it.

We were making a loop. Gettysburg. Thurmont. Frederick. And home. After the outlets, off to stop at Catoctin Mountain Orchards for some fruit. We did decide to indulge in lunch at one of those long time restaurants in that part of Frederick County.

The Shamrock.

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Right on Rte. 15 north of Thurmont and south of Emmitsburg. Celebrating their 50th year in business. Family run. It checks off one of my list of things to do in my 60th year. Eating at small business family owned restaurants and diners.

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I did not take pictures inside. One thing I try not to do while traveling.

We then hit Gateway for my husband’s Hershey Ice Cream fix (salted caramel with truffle cone), and for me to find some interesting candy to take to book club (which unfortunately was canceled).

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The candy hit? A little bit of nostalgia.

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After the visit to Gateway, we headed around the back road to Catoctin. For peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines. Apple cider (a simple Buy Local item for those not inclined to cook much). The view today.

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Worth the trip just to wander down Rte. 15 and check out the orchards and farms. The last destination. Frederick Wine House, across from Wegmans. The only location I know where you can buy Big Cork Wines. Dave Collins was winemaker at Breaux. He now is working in his new venture in Maryland, Big Cork.

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Getting ready for Buy Local Challenge. Easy choices. Big Cork Wine. Catoctin apple cider. And, we found Bedlam Rose from Black Ankle.

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Three items for the nine day challenge. Easy to use daily. Along with all that lovely fruit. You don’t have to know how to cook to complete the challenge successfully.

Today I scored:
Apple Cider
Chardonnay from Big Cork
Rose from Black Ankle

If I added cheese, tomatoes, corn, watermelon and cantaloupe from the farmer’s markets, I would have more than enough to succeed in the challenge.


Watermelon. Feta. Mint. Heavenly!

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Finally, summertime! Don’t know what is better, the salad or the gazpacho.

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I suppose you could call this my “Buy Local Challenge” practice meal. There are at least ten locally sourced items in the dinner. For the challenge, you need to eat at least one a day for nine days. No requirement that the nine be different, but in the spirit of the challenge, finding nine locally sourced items and using them during the nine days would certainly be successful as a participant.

The watermelon, feta, mint salad is a summertime staple in our house. Simple. The watermelon is from a farm stand on the way home from our visit to Linden Vineyards. Feta is Bowling Green Farms from right up the road here in Howard County. Mint from my garden, bought years ago from Greenway Farms. Add some olive oil, salt, pepper and at the last minute squeeze the lime over it. An amazingly flavorful salad that just screams Summertime!

The gazpacho. My first of the season. CSA tomatoes, onion, and cucumber. Basil from my garden. A green pepper from that farm stand. A cup of Bloody Mary mix bought in St. Michael’s and sourced from Virginia. Some red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a couple of garlic cloves left over from my Breezy Willow CSA in May. Blended together. No measuring. Just four tomatoes, one red onion, one green pepper, half a huge cucumber, and all the seasonings to taste. We like our gazpacho garlicky so I did toss in a teaspoon of garlic powder since I am waiting for my garlic to cure and I have none left otherwise.

The rest of the dinner?

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A small filet of ahi, sesame crusted. A CSA potato, baked in the microwave and served with Trickling Springs butter. The little vat of garam masala spiced butter is for the corn on the cob that finished the meal.

Oh, and the wine?

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Summertime in a glass. Linden Rosé.

And to round out a lovely Sunday dinner, my table arrangement from the garden. I can’t believe how the gladiolus are going absolutely nuts from the rain.

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Oh, I almost forgot. We harvested our first six sun sugar tomatoes this morning. Whoo Hoo! Summer really is here.

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Here’s to many more lazy flavorful local dinners!

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Simplest Summer Pleasures in the Garden

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In a rare sun sighting, I was out checking on the state of the flowers, herbs, veggies and of course, the bunnies and the butterflies.

The butterfly bush finally bloomed and an Eastern tiger swallowtail was having a great time feasting on the flowers.

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While out there I noticed that the yellow gladiolus are now coming into bloom. I am bringing in 5-6 new stalks every day. All this rain has created an explosion of them.

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As for the herbs, the rosemary and thyme are so thick and getting so large, I am cutting them every few days. Rosemary is drying in the garage. I want this plant to remain short and bushy. As for the thyme, it is heading across the garden and creeping around other bushes.

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On the tomato front, finally, the large cherry tomatoes and the sun sugar tomatoes are starting to turn color. I may finally have cherry tomatoes for salads by the middle of the coming week (three weeks later than last year).

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As for the bunnies, they are overrunning the yard. At least they seem to be leaving my herbs and veggies alone for the moment. Half the time they don’t even run when I am out there.

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Looks like if it stops raining, I need to do weeding again. They are rampant from all the rain. And, I have no idea where these volunteer plants came from, right in the middle of the herbs.

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All in all, a good day out in the garden. Now, let’s bring on some sunshine and get the tomatoes ready for canning, eating and the fair. I did indulge in one of my favorite summer breakfasts. This was a CSA tomato, but I do it all the time with mine once they start producing.

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Cut the tomato into thick slices, sprinkle with salt, eat it standing over the sink to catch the juices. Yum!


Way Too Much Rain …

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… and other Friday ramblings.

We were supposed to have a tree removed this morning. Before the disease that is killing the pine spreads to adjoining pines. Our pine screen is important to us for many reasons and we have lost two trees in nine years to various pests. This will be the third.

What does this have to do with rain? Well, at o-dark-thirty (0630 am) our friend in the landscaping business called to cancel due to the huge amount of rain he was getting where he lives (north and east of us). It was only dreary here, not raining, but today like lots of other days would turn out to be pretty dismal.

My tomato plants have those ugly yellow stems from too much rain. And, I have NOT watered them since early June. Mother Nature is doing a number on them.

So, what did we do with a free day, and crappy weather? Of course, what else sounds appealing. Like a trip down to Linden Vineyards to taste the new releases and have some wine and cheese while watching their dreary weather. At least they aren’t getting the deluge that other parts of the two states have been seeing.

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There is something about sitting on that enclosed porch with the doors swung open to watch the fog over the Shenandoah mountains north of the winery. Too bad it decided to rain because they have the most amazingly beautiful deck for enjoying the scenery and watching the weather change.

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Today we tasted the newly released chardonnay, and riesling vidal, then sat down and had some Avenius Sauvignon Blanc with chevre, summer sausage and a warm baguette.

About the only thing this rain has been good for, is

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making my flowers explode in blooming. There are literally dozens of stalks on the gladiolus plants in the corner of the yard. I cut two or three every morning to keep them on the counter or the dining room table. Crossing my fingers they will still be blooming the week of the county fair. I got a second place ribbon for them last year.

And, cucumbers. This wet spring and summer means lots and lots of pickling cukes. I added a few to the crock yesterday morning. We keep the dill pickle crock going for as long as we can in the summer. Looks like this may be a banner year.

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The pickles from a little over a week ago are ready to eat. My husband has already been going in the crock and grabbing one to have with lunch. The dark green new ones, scrubbed and dropped into the dill vinegar mix, will soak up that mouth puckering mixture that a perfect dill can achieve. To give them the crunch, I take a few out and put them in the fridge for a few hours before eating them.

To keep them submerged, I bought a saucer that just fits inside the crock. This crock, for pickles, and a larger one for sauerkraut, are always on our counter, hidden in a corner when not in use. In a few weeks, the kraut process will start, so that all fall I can have kraut for sausages, for a side dish and my favorite time to pull it out, Thanksgiving.

Now, if it just would get sunny enough for my first tomatoes. Tonight, when we got home, I went out to pull in a few more cucumbers. I found that the cherry tomatoes and the sun sugar tomatoes are finally starting to get red. Plus, crossing my fingers, none of the heirlooms have split from the excessive moisture. I may actually have either Box Car Willie or Mortgage Lifter or Paul Robeson tomatoes for the fair in three weeks.

Rain, rain, PLEASE, go away. I can even handle those two extremely hot days they are predicting for the middle of next week. Just give us some sunshine.