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Monthly Archives: March 2014

March Madness

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That would be the nine inches of snow we woke up to find on our patio this morning. St. Patrick’s Day? A little late in my book for snow of this magnitude.

This is the winter that just won’t go away.

I have been planning for spring. Seed starting. Garden planning.

But, add to that the hopefully last time we break out the snow thrower.

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It may have been fluffy snow but it still was heavy. I got to clean off cars. My better half got to push the snow thrower for an hour.

At least the roads got cleared and we made it to Iron Bridge for the wine tasting event. We have told them they need to stop having these Monday night events. I think we had way more of them impacted by snow or ice.

What is it about Mondays in Howard County this winter? How many Mondays had cancellations, or closings?

Enough already! I am so ready for spring temperatures.

#hocoblogs

Memories of the Navy … in Bean Soup

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Every week at White Oak. Bean soup on the lunch menu. Really hearty. Full of flavor. Similar to what is served at the Senate. And in the Pentagon.

For me, that soup was a filling comforting bowl of warmth in the middle of winter. I have been working to perfect my own version of it.

Senate bean soup includes butter. Mine doesn’t.

Mine takes five ingredients plus salt and pepper. Beans. Scallions. Ham hock. Broth. Garlic.

Yesterday I soaked, then cooked the white beans from the Friends and Farms delivery. This morning I put them, and a pork hock and a pint of veggie broth in my crockpot. Added four cloves of garlic. A half dozen scallions.

Let it cook for eight hours. Pureed half of it (minus the pork). Shredded that pork about an hour before serving.

It came out like this.

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Enough for two meals. Dinner tonight and lunch later next week.

Tonight we served it with warm garlic naan and a 2012 Linden Avenius Sauvignon Blanc. A crisp flinty SB, to cut the creamy richness of the soup.

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Local meals. Yum!

#hocofood

Processed Foods

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Since I stopped buying many processed foods and started cooking from scratch I now spend more time thinking ahead about what to make every week.

Meal planning and prepping foods, like the navy beans we got in this week’s basket from Friends and Farms.

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Taking the time to soak and cook the beans in advance means I will be able to make bean soup in the crockpot this weekend.

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The basket this week included quite a mix of items. Looks like some good St. Patrick’s Day meal options in there.

We got chicken breasts, pork sausage and pork hocks. I also caught the note on Facebook that they had a limited amount of lamb cubes available for purchase.

We got red cabbage and potatoes. Onions too. Green peppers. Tomato puree. Lettuce and grape tomatoes for a salad. Apples to use with that red cabbage.

This was a yogurt week. And eggs. And a baguette.

Almost no need to go to a grocery store anymore. Just a few staples needed to make meals.

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If there is one place that I am enjoying this experience, it is in the quality of the food, particularly the meats.

Just the right size for two people. Really fresh.

I am making a lamb stew next week. Navy bean soup tomorrow. A frittata with the eggs and sausage and potatoes. Red cabbage with apples.

In our world these days, the only thing I seem to ever buy in the frozen food aisle at Harris Teeter is the gelato.

I like the way I have changed how I cook. Thanks to the seasonal, regional goodies, and my freezer.

#hocofood

Searching for Signs of Spring

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As the skies in the west darken. The temperatures may drop forty degrees tonight. Storms will rip through. And, we may get one or two more snow events before winter leaves us.

Will spring ever arrive? Tomorrow we have volunteer training, including hiking, in temperatures that may barely hit freezing, as a high. That should be interesting.

Heavy rain is hitting the front of our house. Cross your fingers that our radio tower does OK. It is a year old this week.

I see no evidence of garlic in the garden. I planted it last fall, and covered it heavily with mulch. Normally by now, there would be something out there.

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This was last year on the 29th of March.

Tulips? Not very far along either. Barely seen. Not like last year when they popped above the ground in January.

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I moved the tractor up to the garage today, to get picked up for service tomorrow. I don’t think we will be cutting grass anytime soon.

This has been a cold winter. One that, I hope, will cut down on the number of destructive pests that kill my garden plants. If only it would kill the stink bugs. That would be celebration worthy.

Are you tired of winter too?

One Crazy Busy Thursday

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I just realized that this Thursday is going to be extremely busy for me. Mostly over at the Howard County Conservancy where I volunteer.

What with elementary school field trip training, a pot luck luncheon for volunteers, picking up my Friends and Farms basket, bringing it home to process, putting out a simple dinner for my husband, and heading off to the art reception for the evening.

I really should go back to work. I think I need the rest.

We always have a pot luck luncheon during volunteer training. I like to use garden goodies when I can.

This time I am using some of my garlic scape pesto from the freezer to make a couscous salad.

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As for the art show, this time having an opening reception gives the artists something they are used to having. The chance to talk to those interested in what inspires them. I really enjoy this evening. Plus, we have the opportunity to buy one of Greg Mort’s awesome items. He has been so generous with his time, his art, his books. Donating so much to the Conservancy.

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As for time spent at the Conservancy, I agree with those who say it is a respite from the hectic stress filled hours. Every time I drive into the driveway and walk those paths I feel so relaxed.

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I have to say, spring seems to be so close, but just a bit out of reach. I do know I can’t wait to get back outdoors and enjoy all of the surroundings here where we live.

Here’s to many more busy days!

#hocoblogs

Beef! It is What’s For Dinners

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Twice the past few days we have had beef on the menu. Really good beef. Not bought at grocery stores but from local farms and butchers who use local farms.

Short ribs over polenta.

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Both from Friends and Farms.

The ribs were seared first and cooked in the crock pot until they were falling off the bone. Polenta was cooked on the stove and served with some onions and greens.

If that wasn’t good enough, tonight I wanted to use my Christmas present. My rice steamer.

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I had a white rice and wild rice pilaf mix from the Shrewsbury Amish market bulk store. My husband wanted beef to go with it, so I cooked a couple of very petite 3-4 ounce filets from England Acres.

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They started as a pan sear, then I added mushrooms, peppers and scallions. Finished with the Pacific brand mushroom soup.

Served over the rice.

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Since my rice cooker makes two cups of rice, I used half the mixture in some turkey rice soup. I need to bring a dish to the Conservancy pot luck Thursday.

So, today was truly a major cooking day. But, the rest of the week there will be good leftovers.

#hocofood

The Artist As Messenger

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The juried art show at the Howard County Conservancy.

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We were hanging pictures yesterday in advance of the reception this Thursday night.

The judging took place yesterday also. The judges, Greg Mort, Rebecca Hoffberger and Anne Raver, all back for their fifth year of participation, had their largest set of entries this year.

The Conservancy is hosting the reception where the winners will be revealed. The art is available for viewing until Easter.

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Come out and see some very interesting works of art.

Registration is here. $10 in advance. $12 at the door. I will be working the wine pouring table.

#hocoblogs

How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Thoughts of springtime? Gardens. Plants. Herbs. Today’s high temperatures brought those thoughts to the forefront.

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In the past, I used my 300 square foot deer fenced plot for my heirlooms and a few other plants. I have given up. The trees are way too tall, and I get less than six hours of direct sun on the garden.

My options were: the center of the front yard. Not a good place for a deer fence. Or: the meadow. Which required lots of excavation, and soil conditioning. And, 400 feet from the house.

My solution for my sunny tomato garden!

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A full plot in the Howard County Conservancy community garden. Deer fenced. Easy access to water. Really lovely soil. All sorts of possibilities in an area twice the size of my small fenced plot.

As a retired person, I realize that I need to connect with others. This plot gives me a new social network. And a really great exercise option.

There will be lots of heirloom tomatoes this year. And finally. Enough sun to grow peppers.

Check out the Conservancy gardens if you want to try one. I hear there are a few left.

#hocoblogs

Monkfish Stew

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OK, monkfish is something I don’t ordinarily buy. Thanks to Friends and Farms, we got some very fresh, very nice monkfish in today’s pickup.

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So, I made a stew. I sort of followed a recipe. Carrots, onions, parsnips. Red pepper tomato soup. Tomatoes from my freezer. Broccoli from the freezer. All mixed together and slow cooked.

Finally, seared the monkfish in a pan and added it for the last 15 minutes.

Served with a lovely Verdeca bought at Iron Bridge during the Italian wine tasting series.

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What else was in this week’s basket? The makings of a very good dinner this weekend. Short Ribs and polenta.

Maybe with some of these lovely mushrooms.

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Along with the mushrooms, there was curly endive and beets. And, O’Henry sweet potatoes.

Apples. And a couple of quick frozen veggies.

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Broccoli is always welcome. As are the green beans. I like the frozen veggies. They do well in soups.

What did I forget? Oh yeah, eggs and muenster cheese.

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And, bread. This week I picked honey whole wheat. As for the polenta, this is something I really enjoy making, but don’t make it enough. That will be remedied.

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There is enough here for two meals for us. Just the right amount.

Can’t be happier about all these inspiring choices for dinners.

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Pizza? Frittata?

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So, what is it?

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A frittata without potatoes? Or a Pizza with no crust?

Inspired by the Swiss Chard from last week’s basket.

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Besides. I needed to use up some eggs.

I started with some leftover thin sliced sausage. Reminiscent of pepperoni. Sautéed with scallions and garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Chard added to wilt down.

Eight eggs whisked with a little milk. Leftover mozzarella.

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Everybody into an oven proof pan and put in a 300 degree oven until browned.

Looks like a pepperoni and cheese pizza meets an eggy crust.

We had half of it tonight and the rest will be brunch this weekend.

The star of the dinner though? A 2001 Elk Run Liberty Tavern Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Found in the cellar. Still hanging in there!

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Who says Maryland can’t make good wine? This one was smooth, fruity, just a hint of smoke.

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