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Monthly Archives: August 2013

You Say Frittata …

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… I say crustless quiche. Although technically they are a bit different in composition and preparation.

One of the staples in this house, particularly when there are lots of eggs, is the frittata. An Italian, or Spanish originating one dish meal. Most of the ingredients are the same, just the proportions differ.

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Whenever someone asks me how I deal with the large amount of veggies left from the CSA, this is my go to preparation. The picture above is the finished version that I slid out onto a pan to cut. I make my frittata in an oven proof frying pan, with a non stick surface. Not good to cut on.

Tonight we had a bloggers party. I didn’t want large amounts of fried foods, so around 3 this afternoon we had a late lunch of leftover frittata. Left over from Monday night dinner.

Monday I wanted something easy as I was still processing tomatoes from the garden and the CSA. This meal, definitely in the easy category.

Find some greens. Any greens. I used arugula and chard from my garden. Find some onion and garlic. I used scallions, and some of those perfectly roasted garlic cloves I made last week.

Pour some oil in the pan. Add the onion and garlic. Chopped up first. Once they soften, add the greens. Let them wilt. In the meantime whisk 4-6 eggs in a dish. Depends on how many you are feeding. I used 6 for this recipe. Add a splash of milk. Any kind of grated cheese. I used pecorino romano. Italian herbs. Salt. Pepper. Wing it.

Microwave one yellow or white potato until it is slightly soft. Slice it. Pull out some tomatoes (like maybe some sun dried). I used some of my tomatoes that I had oven roasted, but you can substitute sun dried. Like the ones from a salad bar.

Here is the picture before I added the potato, mozzarella, and meat.

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If you want to add meat, crumble it and add it. I put a pound of pork sausage in the oven earlier Monday. I wanted some of it for this, and saved half of it for stuffed cabbage later this week. A simple way to multitask. Either bacon or pork, in the oven, crumbled after it is done cooking. Use it for multiple meals. Don’t put the heavy stuff, the meat and potatoes, on the frittata until it starts to set. Just before moving to the oven, add some soft mozzarella.

Put it all in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes. The bottom will have set on the stove and the top in the oven.

We get two meals out of a frittata. Usually a dinner and a lunch. This is such an easy way to use up greens and tomatoes from the CSA, you really need to make it a regular meal at your house.

Now, I just have to decide what to do with the Thumbalina carrots, the only thing not touched from last week’s CSA. We get more stuff tomorrow, and I am surprised. There is nothing left but the carrots and a few potatoes. Oh, there is half a watermelon, too. But, we are plowing through that on a daily basis.


Trippin’ Again

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Day Tripping, that is.

Including some updated pictures from Turf Valley. We had a lazy day, that started with a trip to the landfill because the recycling truck came three hours earlier than usual. Which meant we missed it.

Before hitting the landfill, I went into Towne Square with the good camera and shot more pictures. And we picked up tuna subs from Subway before hitting the road to Thurmont by way of Frederick. More on that later.

First, Towne Square. There will be the following restaurants and food places.

Facci, which we mentioned before.

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From views of the fenced in areas, it looks like there will be outdoor dining in front and on the side where the fireplace is located.

Mimi’s Kabob is on the far side of Harris Teeter. I didn’t get down there for pictures.

As for fast food, the Subway and YoLaVie, yogurt are on the left in the way in.

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The woman in Subway who waited on my husband while I was wandering around taking pictures, said Red Parrot will be an Asian restaurant, but today no activity found there.

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Not much going on at Xitomate and Grille 620 either. Only Facci and Petite Cellars had lots of trucks and equipment outside.

We left the landfill today to head off to find Big Cork Wines to take to a family reunion in two weeks. I wanted to take a local wine, and only two liquor stores stock Big Cork. Both of them just outside the Wegmans location north of Frederick.

I wanted some Traminette. A relative grape of Gewurztraminer. A good all purpose white that will please a crowd. We found ours at Riverside, just south of the Wegmans complex off Monocacy Boulevard.

We then headed out to Thurmont for a ride. Looking to take pictures. And finding one of the six remaining covered bridges in Maryland. Just north of Catoctin Mountain Orchards, at the intersection of Roddy and Roddy Creek Roads.

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I was looking for honey bee pictures. Working on the theme for next year’s County Fair special category.

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We were also looking for farm country pictures to use on my husband’s design for his amateur radio cards to exchange for confirming a contact with another country. He wants fields and farmland. I took a few north of Catoctin.

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The benefits of retirement. Tuesdays free to wander all over the area.

I have to admit though, it will be nice to have a big choice of restaurants right up the road.


Waste Not, Want Not

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The philosophy I grew up with. Back when you ate everything you were served, or went hungry. Back when food wasn’t engineered to be “pretty”.

I can’t help but cringe when I see obvious waste of good food. I had to write this post after a number of incidents that reminded me just how spoiled we have become. And how we turn up our collective noses at food that isn’t perfect.

The latest largest example was Larriland on Wednesday. While picking peaches, we looked over a few rows from the Coral Star peaches we were picking, to a row where a large pile of peaches had been “dumped”. Maybe a wheelbarrow overturned. But, for whatever reason, dozens of ripe peaches were sprawled across the ground, bruised and left for garbage (or seconds).

Whenever we go to Larriland, we see evidence of the waste. If something isn’t perfect, it gets tossed on the ground. For whatever reason, people seem to think that only flawless looking food is worth buying.

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It amazes me, what is wasted. Back when we went to the Amish picnic, and the farmer from Bellview offered us “seconds” from the fava bean harvest. Forty plus pounds of unsellable beans. Nothing really wrong with them, just small amounts in the pods, or a surface fungus.

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And, then there is the constant reminder that wormy corn isn’t bad. That the worms come because they are sweet, and they aren’t liberally doused in pesticides to ward off the worms. I would rather break off the ends and have sweet corn with no chemical residue, than worry that a worm was chomping on the end of the corn.

My cucumbers are weird looking. They curl on the ends. These types of cukes wouldn’t sell in a market, or at a grocery store. There, we have to have waxed cucumbers, as if wax was something I really need in my diet.

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This weekend, at the Food Bank gardens, we saw perfectly good tomatoes rejected, because they had flaws. Really? Heirloom tomatoes aren’t desirable if there are flaws on them?

I just don’t get it. People go nuts about GMOs, but they brought it on themselves, by rejecting natural fruit and veggies that have flaws. The next step from hybrid seems to be GMO. Make veggies the insects won’t touch, so that they can be sold blemish free. Higher yields. Less waste.

Me, I will just continue to buy ugly fruit and veggies. Who cares about stink bug holes. Just cut out those parts. Once you garden, you understand, and have no problem eating “ugly” food.

Well, off my soapbox today. My chard in my frittata was ripped up on the ends. My tomatoes had spots that were cut out. My basil, the same thing. Cut off the mutilated edges and process.

It still tasted great.


The Bug Man Cometh …

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… and he brought his wife. And, they talked about butterflies, pollinators and so much more. At the Howard County Conservancy last Saturday, we were treated to a “twofer”. Dr. Mike Raupp, and his wife Dr. Paula Shrewsbury, spent a few hours talking to the crowd gathered around them in the picnic area.

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Looking at bugs. Talking about bees. Going on a hike through the gardens, looking for pollinators, and identifying butterflies, moths, insects and bees.

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Fun for all ages. Mike has this ability to connect with all ages, from the youngest enthusiasts, to the master gardeners, and master naturalists there to learn even more than they might have known about insects.

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I always learn something new from his talks. And, from his wife’s, too. This time I learned about solitary bees. And, how to attract them to make a home in our yards and pollinate our vegetables and fruit. Like making bee hotels.

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The last part of the program was a hike out into the meadows to see what they could find there, amongst the grasses and the milkweed.

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Getting back into the swing of things, most of us volunteers are preparing to take the refresher training, for the fall field trips at the Conservancy. I see there will be new activities for the school children and we will be learning how to present them.

One of my favorite parts of my volunteer “job”. Learning new things, and then seeing them through the eyes of the children. The training schedule is here, for those who want to join our group of volunteer hike leaders. And then, just like me …

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… you will then know the name of this plant, and the butterfly. Answer: Joe Pye Weed. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.


Replacing River Hill

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With Turf Valley.

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It’s about a half mile further to get to Turf Valley than it is to drive to Clarksville for shopping. Slowly, but surely, I am replacing Clarksville and Roots, with Turf Valley and Harris Teeter.

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Today, after a fun morning watching Dr. Mike Raupp aka Bug Man give a talk, walk and show neat things to the families at the Howard County Conservancy, I stopped at Harris Teeter for a few items I needed. Like K Cups. And my husband’s favorite cereals.

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More on the Conservancy event in a future post, but today I want to show a few pictures of how the new town center is shaping up.

The Facci is coming along. With its outdoor dining area.

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A few more stores have opened. We are waiting for Petite Cellars to open, to see how it compares to Perfect Pour.

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And, Xitomate, to see how their Mexican fare stacks up to some of our favorite Mexican restaurants.

All in all, I had a fun and productive Saturday morning. I do like the fact that Harris Teeter is really good about getting you to an open checker as quickly as possible. I hope they do well. I know they are more expensive than Weis, but they definitely have better organic pricing than Roots. I will still use Roots for some of those awesome ready made dips, hummus, and hard to find items, but that convenience of finding organic veggies not currently available at our farmer’s markets, makes Harris Teeter a good fit for me.

Besides, as I have said before, we go to the landfill often. Harris Teeter is right south of there. So convenient for us. And, right down the road from the Conservancy. A simple stop on the way home after volunteering. What’s not to like?


Preservation Hall

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The new name for my kitchen. I spent most of today preserving fruit. Yes, tomatoes count as a fruit. As do the blackberries and the peaches.

First, some oven dried tomatoes.

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I got a pint container in the freezer out of this batch. My orange tomatoes, some Amish paste, and the CSA romas, all slow cooked at 200 degrees for two hours in the oven. They had scallions and shallots, salt, pepper, sugar and oregano on them, then drizzled in olive oil. Sometime this winter, the pasta I make with this mix will be a breath of summer in a pan.

Blackberries. Boiled down with some super fine sugar, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of pepper.

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Then I ran them through a very fine sieve and made two trays. One the simple syrup for dressings, and the other, the blackberry ice cubes for sangria.

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When you cook blackberries low and slow for a long time, the seeds almost disintegrate, so I don’t mind putting them in the freezer and using them. Some people do throw them away, but I like that texture for a few applications.

Now, for those peaches. I did about half of them today. The rest will become peach puree tomorrow. Except for a few we will keep to eat.

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I quickly blanch them in simmering water. Sixty seconds or so. Then, peel them.

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The nicest ones I freeze as half peaches. The rest get sliced. I got six bags full today.

All in all, a very productive day. Besides the preserving, I made red pepper hummus and potato/green bean salad. The salad for my husband to take to a dinner meeting in northern VA tomorrow night. The hummus. Well, that is one of my favorite snacks.

Time to give the kitchen a rest.


Lucky 13, Week of the CSA

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We scored a huge watermelon this week.

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With nine other items.
1 bag Green Beans – Freedom Acres
1 bunch Dill – Kirkwood Herbs (I swapped for jalapenos)
1 bag San Marzano Roma Tomatoes – Maple Lawn Organics
6 ears Sweet Corn – Pine Hill Organics
1 bag Thumbalina Carrots – Farmdale Organics
1 bag Shallots – Shady Brook Organics
1 Red Seedless Watermelon – Misty Meadows
1 bag Yukon Gold Potatoes – Hillside Organics
1 pint Mixed Cherry Tomatoes – Farmdale Organics
1 bag Red Slicing Tomatoes – White Swan Acres

The whole picture here:

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This week, just to show the difference, one of the 60% share members let me photograph their veggies before they divided them up. Two single friends share a 60% box. Besides getting a bit less than the full share, their amounts are smaller.

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For a single vegetarian, or a couple, this is a perfect size for a CSA share. At less than $20 a week, most weeks they get 6-8 items. The baby eggplants were really cute. They get much more conventional veggies than the full share.

Right now, our pick up site is pretty full. A transferring member (from Silver Spring) was new this week. We had a nice visit and recipe swap between many of us today, as with perfect weather, we were out enjoying the sun without humidity.

As for value, I haven’t done a comparison lately, but today it was a really good easy one to do. Using prices for organic.

Corn $3 a half dozen
Cherry tomatoes $4
Slicing tomatoes @$3 a pound = $5
Watermelon $5
Green Beans $3
Heirloom Romas $4
Thumbelina Carrots $3
Shallots $2
Jalapenos $3
Potatoes, 4 pounds, $6

Total: $38 — Weekly Fee: $31

Some weeks it is even higher than this. Some weeks we get 12 or 13 items.

The CSA is such a bargain if you normally shop at organic stores, or farm stands.

Tonight for dinner, some of it made it onto our plates already. Like the corn.

Thanks to all the CSAs in the area, and the markets, fresh food is not far away.


A Picture Perfect Day …

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… for picking peaches. Oh, and Blackberries, too. At Larriland.

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I dropped my husband off at his monthly Glenwood DX Association radio group’s luncheon at Town Grill in Lisbon, then headed off to pick blackberries.

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An hour or so later, and five pounds of berries in the back of the car, I picked him up so he could help me pick peaches. Twenty seven pounds of peaches in less than 20 minutes.

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Gorgeous peaches at $1.25 a pound if you pick more than 20 pounds. Tomorrow will be peach blanching, freezing and blending day.

The weather was perfect. There were lots of people at the peach picking sites, but I had most of the blackberry bush area to myself. My own row, as a matter of fact.

After a stop back at the red barn to get some canning supplies, an eggplant and a couple of red peppers to top off the ajvar, and home to process berries.

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The best berries go into the freezer whole, are flash frozen, then packed in small bags. I got eight bags with about a cup of berries in each one. The ones on the top left are the less than perfect. I will drop them into boiling water briefly using a strainer, then put them in the blender with a little honey and just a touch of balsamic. They will be strained into syrup then put in an ice cube tray to freeze. The basis for vinaigrettes all winter. The top right are the “Eat Now” berries. For cereal. Yogurt. Salads. Snacks. They will be gone in two or three days probably, they are so good.

As for a few of the ripest peaches, they became part of dinner tonight.

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Right on the grill with lemon olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Served with some Breezy Willow kielbasa, a local wine from Big Cork, and some pesto pasta salad.

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Head on out to Larriland. The peaches and blackberries are down the road from the farm entrance (stay on Rte. 94 south) and a right turn into the picking areas.

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Whackin’ Back the Basil

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Every once in a while you need to go out there and harvest basil. Before it gets completely out of control.

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Today I harvested three cups of basil. Mostly African blue basil, with some Genovese and a little Thai basil in the mix. That meant a triple batch of pesto to be made.

First, toasting a cup of pine nuts. Over low heat. Watching them the whole time.

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The three cups of basil, cup of pine nuts, cup of cheese (I used Pecorino this time), six cloves of roasted garlic, all went into the food processor.

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Then, the olive oil drizzling, addition of salt and pepper, none of this measured, by the way, continued until I had the taste and consistency I wanted.

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This meant I ended up with three one cup containers of pesto. Two for the freezer, one in the refrigerator. My husband, of course, then wanted pesto pasta for dinner. Thankfully, there were bay scallops in the freezer, easy to defrost, and some dried artichoke pasta from The Common Market in the pantry.

The final dinner. Pesto pasta with sauteed bay scallops, scallions, and red pepper. A couple of sliced heirloom tomatoes from my garden and some mixed greens with feta. Oh, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

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As for the wine match, we decided to test two local Virginia Sauvignon Blancs against one another. Both from 2011. Linden Avenius versus Doukenie. The Doukenie did well, standing up to the Linden but that wonderful Fume Blanc style of the Avenius was just a bit better. Way to go, Doukenie, for making a very nice SB.

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Overall, not your typical Tuesday night dinner, but when you get fresh pesto, you take advantage of it.


Perfectly Roasted Garlic

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It’s all Rebecca’s fault. She taught me this trick in her ajvar post last year.

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For perfectly roasted garlic, turn off the oven. Put garlic cloves, salt, pepper, olive oil in a foil pouch. After cooking whatever it may be that you are cooking in a hot oven, turn off the oven and put the foil packet in it.

You will get lovely soft roasted garlic, you know, the kind that sells at that $7.99 a pound Mediterranean bar at Wegmans.

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These are so good on garlic bread, in pasta sauces, on pizzas, in pesto, on lamb.

They are so easy to make, and a jar of them in the refrigerator will get used quite quickly. I did this batch with CSA garlic. For the rest of this fall, my garlic from my garden will be used this way.

So, turn off that oven and roast garlic. And thank Rebecca for the recipe. By the way, I use her preserving pages religiously when I am putting up foods. Thanks, Rebecca!