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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Easy Pea-sy

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Pea Shoot Pesto.


I wanted something interesting to do with the pea shoots we received from our weekly pickup at Friends and Farms.

After a bit of searching around the internet, and knowing that I am a sucker for pestos, I found numerous recipes for a pesto made using pea shoots.


I messed around with them, as usual. And, reverted to my standard formula for pesto. I harvested almost all of the pea shoots. Got around three cups of them.

Toasted a mix of almonds, pecans and walnuts.


About three ounces of them.

Set up the food processor with about three ounces of Parmesan, two cloves of garlic, salt and pepper.


After I blended the Parmesan, I added the nuts and the pea shoots.


As this was blending, I poured in the olive oil. Getting it to the consistency I wanted and tasting while adding a little additional salt and pepper.

The final product. About a cup and a half of pesto. A few dollops of it tonight on the last of the cod we received last week.


The rest of it will get mixed with some pastas. Like those I bought at Secolari this week.

It really tastes like peas. You can make all sorts of pestos. Just be creative and experiment.


A Super(bowl) Basket

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This week’s Friends and Farms small basket.


A nicely sized assortment of protein, dairy, produce and fruit. But, my favorite part of it was the inclusion of “big game day” items.


Like the chicken wings, and the ground beef (to make sliders perhaps?).

This week, besides those, we had a pound of Salvadoran style chorizo and eggs, as our breakfast items. I already made the chorizo in tonight’s dinner.

I choose yogurt instead of milk. This week we got peach flavored. And, frozen strawberries. I am thinking about making strawberry peach pops to have for dessert while watching the game Sunday.

We were supposed to get romaine this week, but had a substitution. A large head of Bibb lettuce.


It is happily resting in water in the fridge. Some of it, along with a few of the pea shoots, and the grape tomatoes became tonight’s salad.


The dressing on that salad was made with some maple yogurt dressing using that yogurt from last week’s delivery.

My super bowl menu. Buffalo style wings. Sweet potato fries. Sourdough crostini with various toppings. Strawberry peach pops.

Dinner tonight. Besides that salad above.


Chorizo. Baked on top of kale, apple, and crouton “stuffing”. Served with a sweet potato. Most of which came in this week’s and last week’s baskets.

Who needs grocery stores?


Jam Jar Dressings

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I have posted before about making my own salad dressings, using a small jam jar to mix them up.


This time I am experimenting with the Pequea Valley yogurts we get in our Friends and Farms basket. Last week I chose maple (partially to use with the granola I have been making). Maple yogurt makes a very flavorful dressing with mustard.


These are the primary ingredients. Equal parts yogurt and mustard. I used 1/4 cup each. You can double or triple this recipe depending on the number of people you are serving. I got about five ounces of dressing using this recipe. Enough for at least four salads.

The original recipes I found in numerous places on the internet. They used plain yogurt with maple syrup added. I used this delicately flavored maple yogurt, with one tablespoon of pure maple syrup added.

Two tablespoons of olive oil. One Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tonight I served it over romaine, with chopped carrots, celery, scallions, radishes and shaved Parmesan.

The other half will be served with some garlic sausage tomorrow night for dinner. My husband liked the thick rich taste of it, and said it would make a great dipping sauce for sausage.

Making homemade dressing is simple. Plop it all in the jar, cover it, and shake. No preservatives. No extra sugar. You can adjust the amount of maple syrup, and use plain Greek yogurt for a thick dressing.

PS, it is also way less expensive than buying those jars of dressing in the stores.


Monday at the Mall

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I am not usually a Mall person. I think the last time I visited Columbia Mall was when we bought our new ovens from Sears. A very long time ago.

My husband, has his hair cut at Cavallero. Right across the way from the scene of the shootings last weekend. For 35 years, he has been going to “Rex’s Place” which became Cavallero. He was just there earlier this month.

For me, the locavore and small business advocate, my only recent dealings with the Mall have been specialty stores, like Secolari.


A family owned business that opened before Christmas.

To show support for the stores, we were there around 2 PM today, right after the Mall reopened. I went in and tasted olive oils and vinegars. Bought a few things. Met Casey from cookieride. And a few Chamber of Commerce members.

My husband popped over to Starbucks to get a small coffee. Ran into the governor’s entourage. That was interesting.

The Howard County community wants to show that we support the people who work at the Mall. That we know they need to get back to work, and they need our business to continue to succeed.


It was a bittersweet afternoon. The tribute to the victims at the entrance. The fire and police presence. The reporters and cameras. Not the normal Monday afternoon scene.


If you get the chance, and love good pasta, olive oil, honey, sea salts, and vinegars, stop by Secolari and welcome them to Columbia. Try the white balsamic vinegar with the black truffle sea salt.


I will be making some interesting dishes using their ingredients to compliment my next basket from Friends and Farms.

And, caring about the health of the businesses in my county. My home for almost four decades. Which is still an amazing place to live.




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With everything. The cold. The snow. The burst pipe damage. The trauma of watching the TV with the senseless shooting news.

Yeah, sometimes things just pile up. You wonder just how much you can take. I have lived here 39 years this month. Howard County is one awesome place to live.

The people are wonderful. The location, close to DC, Baltimore, a train ride from NYC, a couple of hours from the ocean. A couple of hours from the mountains.

A place with all four seasons.


Frankly, it is difficult to watch tragedies. Senseless tragedies. But, we get used to it as we age. 9/11. Hurricanes. Derechos. Tornadoes. Floods. Ice storms.


This afternoon a Facebook friend talked about how the children are affected by the “Run, Hide, Fight” approach to dealing with the senseless violence. They talked about their parents who lived during the cold war.

Wow! That would be my generation. In grade school during the Cuban missile crisis. The civil rights riots. The Kent State shootings. The war protests.

I keep hearing those song lyrics. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I grew up during some scary times. Did the Drop and Cover thing under our desks in fifth grade, while we hoped that missiles wouldn’t drop nuclear bombs on us.

I was in DC watching the Pentagon burn on 9/11. We lived with the fear of dirty bombs while commuting to DC.

In other words, we coped. We learned to deal with tragedy and stress. A week after 9/11 we drove to Montreal for a planned tour of the Gaspe Peninsula.

We won’t avoid Columbia Mall because of a shooter. We believe that showing strength during adversity is the way to live.


Lunch or Dinner for Charity

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Before all the chaos that hit Howard County today, with the Mall shootings, we got information about six very special meals at a new lakefront restaurant.

Those of us who volunteer, and care about the nonprofits in our area were extremely pleased to hear that Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman were opening Petit Louis Bistro in the space across from Tomato Palace and Clyde’s. On Lake Kittamaqundi.


This coming week, two lunches and four dinners (soft opening) will be offered with all proceeds going to four local nonprofits. The Howard County Conservancy, where I volunteer, is one of the four. Lunch for $30. Dinner for $50. Includes three courses and a glass of wine. ALL money donated to the nonprofit you choose.

If you are like us, and care about the county where we live, and want to take a little treat and give back, consider signing up for one of the six offered times.

Those of us who love it here, even in the midst of the chaos, will be thankful for your support.


Loving the Basket

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Of Friends and Farms goodies. Here, in the dead of winter, it is nice to pick up some fresh veggies, like kale and onions.


Besides these fresh veggies, we had apples and carrots in the bags at the pick up point.


The carrots and those onions will be great in a slow cooker pot roast. We had a chuck roast this week, and some “processed” items.


The tomato puree, with the chuck roast, carrots and onions will form the basis for a pot roast.

We got a piece of sharp cheddar cheese today. Matched with apples, a good snack or dessert.

I chose Maple yogurt this week. We also had cod in the bag, which became part of dinner tonight.

What am I missing? Oh yes, Breadery bread.


This week I chose Montana white bread. To use for toast, and for a couple of recipes that need bread.

While I was there, I picked up a dozen eggs, and a half gallon of apple cider. It is nice to have extra items available to augment your basket.

Can’t complain at all. This is a great deal for getting fresh and flash frozen items to make it through the winter.


Eating Seasonally

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As much as possible, we try to eat items that are fresh. Things that work best in whatever season it is.

That doesn’t mean, though, that we eat only local items. Face it. Citrus isn’t in season here ever, except for small specialty fruit. So, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, pomegranates, lemons, limes, all grace our table year round, but mostly in the winter. When I can’t get peaches, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, rhubarb and all those other local fruits that we love when they are at their peak.


Pomegranates are one of those special fruits. I love putting them in yogurt as part of our lunch plate. We got black cherry yogurt in our Friends and Farms basket last week, and I have been putting a couple of ounces of this rich yogurt on our plates, with either fruit or granola.

Tomorrow I pick up our second basket over at Friends and Farms. I look forward to making many more “seasonal” items, using regionally sourced foods. I know a few of them will be Individual Quick Frozen, but face it.

Not much is growing around here in single digit temperatures.

I have enjoyed dishes using last week’s items, including these.


I made a grapefruit and fennel salad, using the grapefruit. I also used the beans in two dishes. One, my venison chili. The second. A black bean and rice dish, that included four of those very tasty beef sausages that Friends and Farms procures from Wayne Nell and Sons meats, in East Berlin PA.

Some of that venison chili ended up on top of a baked potato yesterday.

If you have a hankering for local meats, available year round, check out my list on my Farm page. I see England Acres has fresh beef. Copper Penny has beef too. As does Clarks. Or call Maple Lawn and get turkey legs to make soup. TLV and Breezy Willow have fresh meat at their Saturday farm stands all winter.

Markets? Check out Olney on Sunday at the Sandy Spring Museum. Or Silver Spring on Saturday morning.

You can eat seasonally, or use some of those “put up” fruits and vegetables, if you remembered to go picking them at Larriland last year.


Another Day, Another Snowstorm

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Winter is getting old, and it’s only January. So far, as I write this we have about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Plus, all of it blowing off the roof and piling against the doors.

The birds are frantic, as usual.


The robins are fighting for heated bird bath space.


The juncos are happy the food is under cover, at least for a while.


The cardinals are hanging out in the burning bush.

We have checked the heat pumps. Checked the storm drain outside the basement door. Cranked up the heat a bit.

It is going to be another series of very cold, very uncomfortable weather.

Meal Planning

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Something I vow to do. But, it doesn’t always get done.

This week, though, we have quite a full calendar. Lots of people coming, for work estimates, including those to clean up from the burst pipe.


My better half has two amateur radio dinners, so I need food for my dinners at home.

A fellow blogger, part of my group that did an Eat Local challenge, had a post today that reminded me about the importance of planning ahead and using items in their prime.

Slow cooker recipes are always my favorite. Like my venison chili.


Using my freezer items. The last of the ground venison. My roasted peppers aka the chili starter. Larriland tomatoes, that were blanched and frozen whole.


Half the turtle beans from the Friends and Farms basket. They were soaked overnight. Drained, rinsed and cooked until almost done (making sure to boil them for ten minutes before simmering for two hours). Also adding that tablespoon of baking soda, recommended for those of us with hard water.

The other half of the beans were simmered on the stove, with half the basmati rice I made the other day in my Christmas present. My rice cooker. The half of the beef sausage not used in the frittata.

I now have three more meals from the chili I made. A meal from the black beans and rice with sausage. And, leftover lasagna. Most of those leftovers were flash frozen in order to keep them fresh. I bring them out early in the morning into the fridge. Put them in the oven on the slow cook setting, while we handle all our daily things.

Dinner is ready and waiting without time spent on our busy weekdays.

I have to say, my favorite items around here are: the crock pot, the rice cooker, and the chest freezer. It makes it easier to cook in advance, when I have spare time. During those hectic days, I have the equivalent of “TV dinners” in the freezer, that are simple to pop in the oven.

The other thing I did Saturday was cook all the potatoes, and half the eggs, for salads.

I wasn’t always this organized when I first joined a CSA in 2010. We gave away quite a few items, and some rotted before use. It has taken three years to get to this state. Where I can efficiently use CSA items and make use of those frozen goodies.


This week, though, I need to find something more interesting to do with those lovely portobellos still in the fridge. They are really nice looking, and I am thinking about stuffing them. Or maybe a mushroom lasagna. I still have some Secolari noodles in the pantry.

Even when I plan, I get that urge to be creative. Great ingredients from our local sources make that easy, too.