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Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Sausage Inspired Frittata

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The beef sausage just screamed, make something with eggs and sausage.


The Friends and Farms basket contained eggs, potatoes and sausage. All great ingredients to make a frittata (or a Spanish tortilla). The difference, flipping in a pan or finishing in an oven. I chose to finish in the oven.

My cast iron skillet has a cover that doubles as a shallow frying pan.


This morning I slow cooked the sausage in the oven. All of it. Half went into tonight’s dinner. The other half will be used in another dish. I also parboiled the potatoes we got. Peeled and sliced.

Some became potato salad. One went into this dish. Along with some chard from Harris Teeter and a few scallions.


The sausage, scallions and chard were all cooked first. Then I added five eggs that had been whisked with a splash of milk, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.


Cooked on the stove top until the bottom set, then finished in a 350 degree oven, sprinkled with Parmesan, cut and served with a salad.


The bibb lettuce from F&F also.

A simple Saturday night dinner, served with a Virginia wine.


Early Mountain does make one very flavorful Pinot Gris. It went well with the frittata.

A very good beginning to cooking with our new source for food. Thanks, Friends and Farms. Today, a frittata. Tomorrow, venison black bean chili.


Friends and Farms, Intro

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My first “basket” from the local company bringing regional, seasonal foods to the area.


Friends and Farms.

Yes, I know. I was supposed to be in a winter CSA. They canceled due to lack of a minimum. It gave me an opportunity to try out Friends and Farms.

I have talked to them a few times. We shared exhibit space (I was volunteering for the Conservancy) at the Wellness Fair last summer. I wasn’t sure I wanted a meat, dairy, produce, fruit and fish supplier. But, they have great options. Like sample baskets. And, four week or thirteen week subscriptions. Individual, Small, Large, and Vegetarian options.

Flexibility to substitute. So, I signed up for a small basket, for four weeks. After my first pick up today, I will be using them until CSA season starts.

I really am impressed with what we get, and their use of regional suppliers from small farms, fish suppliers, butchers, bakers (I wonder if they have candle stick makers). Seriously, some familiar suppliers and some new finds.

I like having a few weeks advance planning calendar. Makes meal planning easier.

Enough words. What did we get? A small basket will supply 2 people for 2 or 3 meals daily.

First, the meat element.


Wayne Nell and Sons supplies much of their meats. We got chicken breasts, country style boneless pork ribs and beef sausage. You can opt out of pork if you wish.

Every other week you get a breakfast style meat with eggs. The opposite week it looks to be seafood and something else, like a cheese choice.

We don’t drink (well I don’t) milk, so we opted for the Pequea Valley yogurt option. This week we got Black Cherry. I could have substituted a different flavor if I didn’t like this one.


Eggs. An Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) butternut squash puree. I am thinking hummus maybe, or lasagna to use more of those lovely Pappardelle pepper lasagna noodles bought at Secolari the other day.

The rest.


Bibb lettuce. Hydroponic tomatoes. Potatoes (plus a bonus of a few sweet potatoes, as some of the white potatoes may have a bit of freeze damage on them). Two lovely Portobello mushrooms. Two pink grapefruit from FL. A bag of dried black beans. A jar of McCutcheon’s pickles.

And, bread from The Breadery. I chose the option of variety, instead of having them give me the same bread weekly. You pick a loaf from the assortment displayed. I chose 5 seed bread this week. You can also swap the bread if you are gluten free, or on a low carb regimen.

I really like the options. We already had bread with dinner tonight, and the beans will be soaked and cooked tomorrow.

Chicken stir fry this weekend. Egg salad sandwiches, using some pickles. A frittata with the beef sausage crumbled in it. Using some eggs. Potatoes.

This is exciting. I like the thought processes that put together the baskets.

Check them out. They have pick up spots all around Howard County, and they are really convenient on Gerwig Lane, just off Broken Land and Snowden River.


Old Friends, New Friends

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I always believe that life revolves around the friends we have. The things we love to do. The experiences. Looking for happiness and finding it.


I am not sure where my husband picked up this cartoon. I swear it is what he does. But, he did go to the blog party at Alexandra’s Turf Valley this evening.

Really good company. A great setting. Lots of conversations. Good food. Thanks, Turf Valley for treating us so well.

We haven’t been to a brunch there in a while. We are overdue. And need to get back there.

We saw dozens of blogging friends. Watched the bartenders make some really nice cocktails. Listened to good acoustic music.

Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night. The Mangione family resort is one of the favorite places to dine, have weddings, reunions, anniversary parties, you name it.

They did a great job tonight hosting us.


It’s Restaurant Weeks Here in #hocomd

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For the period of 13-27 January, many locally owned restaurants across Howard County are participating in “Restaurant Week“. Obviously, from the dates, it has been expanded to two weeks long, during one of the slower months. To encourage diners to come out.

All sorts of specials. We have already received emails from Bistro Blanc. Iron Bridge. The blog party is at Alexandra’s at Turf Valley.

Other restaurants across the county are participating. Some that we like also include Aida, Elkridge Furnace Inn, and Xitomate.

For me, finding good locally sourced food is what brings us to a restaurant. But, I have to admit, I like HowChow’s latest request. A compilation of dining establishments that overlook storm water management ponds. I may have to go looking for some. I have lots of places with outdoor dining overlooking the parking lots. Ponds? Not so much.

But everyone who reads this blog knows I am more likely to cook, than to eat out. It takes a really good restaurant to get us out, when we have dinners like this one from last Friday night.


This was my latest take on kofta. Lamb meatballs, instead of the traditional kabob.

I still think we will get to a few of the restaurants on the list above, while they are offering their specials. After all, we have Iron Bridge University, and a red envelope to redeem. So, there will be at least one dinner out.

Maybe Bistro Blanc. Maybe lunch at Xitomate. So many options out there. But, none of these overlook storm water management ponds.

Any suggestions out there for me, or for HowChow, of places that overlook the ponds? How about suggestions of places that have kofta on the menu, to compare to my recipe?


Blog Party

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Yep, another party for those of us who blog (and read blogs) in Howard County. This one, at Alexandra’s Turf Valley promises to be different.
The description.

Enjoy interesting conversation, tasty food and good music at a party for HoCo bloggers and their readers. Alexandra’s Restaurant, the party’s co-host, is offering complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary drink ticket for our party goers, happy hour specials and libations demonstrations from Bar Manager Kevin Tsui. Good music (Don Bellew on acoustic guitar) will be playing from 6 pm and into the evening. Come for a short stop or plan to stay longer. (Good news for wine — and bargain — lovers: Wednesday is also Alexandra’s half-price wine bottles night.)

For me, Alexandra’s is one of our local venues, with outdoor dining that overlooks a golf course, and not a parking lot. Not that we can dine outdoors in January. But Turf Valley is somewhere those of us out here in West Howard County can pop over to, if we want a good dinner. With music and half price wine on Wednesdays.

There are still a few spots left over at Eventbrite to sign up. Get there from hocoblogs.

Staying for dinner, maybe? These are restaurant weeks in the #hocomd.


I am thinking about the pork belly, sea scallops and coconut gelato myself.


Discovering Secolari

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The new store in Columbia Mall. My husband was there Friday and picked up some of the Pappardelle pasta I have found to be so good, and so versatile.


This is the peppercorn trio lasagna noodle. Let’s say it amazed me, as it expands during the cooking. It gets wider so I only needed four of the six noodles I boiled.


These noodles, along with some homemade sauce with hot Italian sausage became the base for my latest venture into different lasagna recipes.


And, by base, I mean the bottom two layers. I ran out before I got to the top so I improvised. I had some vegan roasted pepper sauce from Roots in the cupboard so added that on the top layer.


We served it with a simple green salad, and a very nice Breaux wine. The “Trilogy”.


This was my Sunday “Eat Local” dinner. Much of this meal came from my freezer and fridge.

The sauce. Made with Larriland tomatoes. Copper Penny sausage. The last of my CSA onions. I put all three in a baking dish yesterday and slow roasted it until the sausage fell apart, the onions almost disintegrated and the tomatoes could be pureed. I then added a can of San Marsano crushed tomatoes and a cube of my pesto. To make a sauce.


Cooking from the freezer.

As for the cheese portion of the lasagna. Bowling Green Feta, chopped in the food processor. Chevre bought at Breezy Willow. One of their eggs. A splash of Trickling Springs milk. Pecorino Romano. Mixed up. I just eyeballed how much milk I needed to get it creamy enough to spread.

If I didn’t have those extra noodles, I would have been fine, but that third layer needed sauce, so I used about half the jar of that vegan roasted pepper sauce.


I spread extra Pecorino Romano on top, and added some dried Italian herb mix. Oregano, basil, thyme. Slow cooked covered in the oven while the 49ers beat the Panthers. Uncovered at a slightly higher oven temp to brown the top.

We will get two meals from this dish. It has a kick to it, from the hot Italian sausage and the peppercorn pasta.

My next foray into lasagna will probably be a butternut squash dish, to use more of these great noodles.

I will head back to Secolari to try their olive oils next. Thanks to HowChow for his post that reminded me they had opened at the Mall.


Foodie Friday

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I think my foodie side won out today, over my locavore side. Although there were hints of local ingredients, and definitely locally supported businesses supplying the ingredients.

I think I found my favorite cookie, even surpassing those Berger things, and the Girl Scout cookies.


These oatmeal cookies arrived from Cooks Illustrated, via Smitten Kitchen.


They were modified originally to add white chocolate. I took that chocolate to new heights, using a Divine bar, bought at Roots.

Much of today’s cookie came from Roots.

Here is the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

1 cup all-purpose flour (King Arthur unbleached AP)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder (Rumford’s aluminum free)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt (I used Redmond Real Salt)
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened (the butter was bought at the Manheim market)
1 cup sugar (Florida cane sugar)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (Wholesome Organic)
1 large egg (South Mountain Creamery)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (bought at Roots, pure Madagascar)
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Root’s bulk)

6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped (I used Divine White Chocolate with Strawberry, bought at Roots)


Fleur de Sel, or flaked sea salt.

The white chocolate bar was a splurge. It made the cookies decadent. The sort of cookie you would pay $1 each to buy at Starbucks.

Whisk together the first four dry ingredients. Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer. Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixer. Then, slowly pour in the flour mix. Finally, the oats and the chocolate.

Trust me. You want a good heavy mixer to do this. The chocolate made my Kitchen Aid move on the counter top.

I got 28 drop cookies on two parchment paper covered sheets. Each drop cookie, about two tablespoons of dough, rolled into a ball, then dropped. Pressed slightly. With about 5-6 flakes Fleur de Sel on top.


Bake at 350 Degrees for about 16 minutes. Mine took a bit longer since I had the oven open a wee bit too long when rotating the cookie sheets.

They need to be golden brown.


These cookies are addictive. Shattering. With air pockets. Not cakey or chewy.

Perfect with a cup of tea, or coffee. Or, all by themselves.

I was in a serious cooking mode today. Tomorrow, I will cover dinner, and thanks to HowChow, the find at Secolari today. Handmade lasagna noodles.

Stick around and see what I make this weekend with those.


When It Rains, It Pours

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Or should I say when it is zero degrees Fahrenheit, even what you consider to be insulated pipes don’t always survive.


The pipe that feeds our tub/shower in the upstairs hall bathroom. Where the crack was, but not where all the “rain” came from.


The powder room exhaust fan. To the right but under the hall bath. It started raining hot water Tuesday night. Thankfully, we grabbed a large trash can to catch much of it, before it ran its way out into the wooden floored rooms. Tile is easier to dry out.

But, we have six holes in the walls. A really messed up ceiling in a storage room in the basement, over an indoor/outdoor carpet. Somewhat simple to clean that up too, except we have to rip out all the dry wall from almost half that room, which was close to collapsing.

My husband was quick to turn off the water to the hot water heater and stop it all before we had massive damage.

Thankfully, too, Ken Griffin is one amazingly responsive plumbing company. Called them at 7 am. They were here an hour later. All buttoned up in time to take morning showers before noon.

Now, we just have to fix all the messed up dry wall.

Oh, and add the pick up to the other casualty of the record temperatures. Dead battery.


Less than three years old. So, Sears is replacing it for free.

We are so ready for spring!


Heard Around the Water Cooler

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Or should I say the heated bird bath.

Look who showed up today. The first visit this winter. Along with scads of robins out below the crab apples.


And, finally the cedar waxwings.


There were three cedar waxwings in our crab apple. Boatloads of robins everywhere you looked.

And happily for me, the four bluebirds that came for a drink from our heated bird bath.

I have said often. Provide water year round for the birds. They will nest and return over and over to your yard.

There were peanuts in the shell on the ground for the blue jays. Suet for the woodpeckers. Seed for the juncos, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows and cardinals.

Keep them fed, and give them water. They will never leave.


Back In The Swing of Things

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A full month of good things to do where I volunteer. At the Howard County Conservancy, there are a number of days we have events. I volunteer at a few and attend others when I can.

This Saturday Ray Bosmans is coming back with his snakes. Always a very well attended free event. At 10 am.

Next Tuesday, we begin our series of volunteer winter hikes. New friends are most welcome. Hike at 9:30. Lecture at 11. The 14th we will learn about the soil at Mt. Pleasant presented by Dean Cowherd, NRCS.


Then, same time on the 28th, Kerry Wixted or DNR will present Exploring Maryland’s Biodiversity.

February 11th, over at the Belmont site, The History of Belmont.

For me, these continuous learning opportunities keep me engaged. Learning more and becoming a better leader of field trips.

But, my favorite upcoming event is the Storytelling Event.

JAN 19- Sunday 3-5pm Tales of Nature: An Afternoon of Professional Storytelling with Adam Booth, Diane Macklin and Marc Young. An afternoon of storytelling that will delight and enchant both children and adults. Tales of earth’s creatures and Mother Nature will be among the stories told by three different professional story tellers from three different traditions: Appalachian, American & African Griotic, and Jewish. $5/person; $15/family. Space is limited, registration required!.

The description from the web site. If you have never seen truly talented story tellers, this is a must attend event.

Wow, add to that my program committee meeting, and I will certainly be busy in the New Year.