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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Out and About: Gadsby’s Bar American

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What a great way to spend a Thursday evening. Watching a master of mixology (aka Beverage Mercenary) create craft cocktails for a small group of local bloggers.

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The venue. Gadsby’s Bar American in the northeast corner where Columbia meets Ellicott City. A little difficult to find, but very convenient right off Route 100. I like individually owned restaurants where the food is made from scratch, and there are many local ingredients, wines and beers on the menu. Gadsby’s delivers in this respect.

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Chad Spangler, who obviously loves his craft, and excels at it (he makes one very tasty Sazerac as well as the five craft cocktails he made for us. All while explaining the art surrounding his craft. Right down to making their own tonic syrup for their Gin and Tonic. Their own simple syrups. A lavender foam. Yes, you read it right. Creating the foam using a stabilizer, like lecithin. Science in cooking. What isn’t there to like about it?

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This was our introduction to a restaurant where we will return, as the menu looks very tempting. As does the wine list. I was happy to see Herman Wiemer’s wines on the menu. One of our long time favorite Finger Lakes producers, of dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc.

Other little goodies are enticing as well. Just take a look at the tasting trays they put out for us.

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Thanks to Chef Gadsby (you were robbed in Iron Chef America), Chad Spangler, and Michael the bartender, and to Jessie Newburn, our hocoblogs den mother who arranged this demonstration.

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If you live around here and want a new place to try that isn’t a boring chain restaurant, check out Gadsby’s. And order their seasonal cocktails, made with rhubarb.

Or, if you like your Manhattan a bit smoky, this one is a treat.

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Not Your Mama’s Catfish

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These were some kind of catfish.

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Carolina Classics Catfish. Delivered in this week’s Friends and Farms basket. Two lovely 10 ounce filets. Perfect for pan frying and serving with those grits also in the basket. Red grits, as a matter of fact. I loosely followed the recipe for the grits on the highlighted web site, but did a little substitution.

As for the basket this week, it was clearly a Southern thing.

Sweet potatoes. Turnip greens. Catfish. Grits. What can I say?

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Some of the usual stuff was in the basket. The dozen eggs. The bread. Apples.

Along With some green peppers. An eye of round roast. Carrots. Spinach. Frozen squash and corn. I have been loving the corn in soups and with black beans for a savory dish.

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Oh, and a killer pepper jack cheese. An “in your face” cheese. Also pictured was a special sitting in their office. Rhubarb strawberry jam. We bought a jar, to have on toast.

As for tonight’s dinner. It consisted of catfish and grits.

The catfish. Pan fried in grapeseed oil. With a dusting of paprika, garlic powder, pepper and oregano. No, I didn’t measure it. I was heavy on the garlic and the paprika. A sweet paprika.

The grits. A slight modification of the recipe on the Plated website linked above. I did use the 1/2 cup of grits, and the two cup liquid mix. I used a couple of ounces of tomato paste and some chicken base in the mix, as called for. I used the spinach from the basket.

I did not have smoked paprika so used sweet paprika with two drops of liquid smoke.

You have to try this red grits recipe if you can get your hands on good grits. This was one awesome grits dish.

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My suggestion, though, is to increase the salt and pepper a bit. They were just a touch too bland.

As for the catfish, use equal amounts (1 tbsp. each) of sweet paprika and of garlic powder. Use a very healthy pinch of pepper. A touch of oregano. I sort of played around with the recipe on the Plated site, but knew I wanted pepper to be more assertive. And much more garlic.

This was good stuff. We will be ordering these catfish from the Friends and Farms website, as we really were impressed with how great they are.


Making It Taste Good

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The mantra of those of us who cook with the thought of providing delicious healthy meals to our families.

We all know it’s sometimes hard to get people to like greens. I am talking about hearty greens, like collards, kale, chard, arugula, escarole, spinach and greens from root veggies, like turnips, beets, radishes, carrots, and kohlrabi.

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The types of veggies we find in our CSA baskets. Like the turnip greens we are getting tomorrow from Friends and Farms. Or those collards from last week.

Interesting that we are real fans of leafy greens. Love the strange lettuce varieties we find. We have learned to stir fry or sauté all sorts of greens. A little garlic. Some balsamic maybe. Or soy sauce.

Make a frittata. Or omelet. Add them to soups and stews. Drop some amazingly good short ribs on top. Put them on pizza.

The possibilities are endless.

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We are about to enter serious greens season. With the markets. The CSAs.

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What could be better than freshly prepared, nutrient rich veggies as part of two meals a day. Salads at lunch. Accents at dinner.

Don’t forget to get your greens wherever you can find them. Popeye would be proud of you.


Looking for Local …

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… in all the right places. And sometimes finding it. And sometimes not.

Case in point. Looking for local wine to take to my brother’s house for Easter. This year I am bringing deviled eggs. Local eggs from the Friends and Farms basket. I have been saving eggs to get them old enough to hard boil. Old eggs are easier to peel.

I am also bringing wine. Which I do for every holiday gathering. I almost always bring local wines. From MD and VA. This year no exception. We are having ham, so this is what I am bringing.

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Barboursville Brut Rose and Linden Rose. Ah, but here’s the twist.

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This sparkling wine is imported. I suppose I wasn’t paying much attention to those details on our visit to Barboursville in September.

I think I was too busy buying seeds from their selection of exotic vegetables, in order to expand my garden. Like these cardoons.

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The large leafed seedlings are the cardoons. I also bought Malabar spinach seeds. They will go in the ground once we ever get past the frost and freeze seasons around here.

So, are cardoons and Malabar spinach local? They are definitely not native to this area. But, if I grow them in my garden, they become local, at least to me.

The Malabar spinach intrigued me, in the kitchen garden at Barboursville. They maintain a garden to supply their restaurant.

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It grows up the trellis and takes over the area if you aren’t careful with it.

After all the discussion, it comes down to this. I try to think locally and regionally. But, I don’t get all obsessive about it. My mantra, everything in moderation. Besides, being a conflicted locavore/foodie makes for a more interesting life.

Crossing my fingers that the veggies turn out great, because those Virginia wines certainly are winners.


Keeping It Close …

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… to home. As in eating regionally. More and more foods that come into our house are regionally sourced. And most of what we eat are items that we make.

I just finished the next to last lamb from England Acres this weekend. It was a loin roast, that we grilled Saturday night.

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It ended up feeding us for two nights, as we finished it tonight with a bunch of thrown together side dishes. We bought half a lamb last April. All that is left are one package of ground lamb, and one rib roast. There were 24 pounds of lamb in our delivery.

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We didn’t order a lamb this year, as we are getting a good variety of locally sourced meat from the Friends and Farms basket.

Along with the lamb last night, we grilled a few of those lovely potatoes that were in this week’s basket. And some pesto rubbed bread.

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The potatoes were coated with garlic powder and rosemary. Olive oil too. The bread, from Wegmans bakery, had a coating of red pepper pesto.

The lamb was marinated in red wine, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.

Tonight the last few pieces were served with some collard greens, and a grilled naan with pesto.

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Those greens. Sautéed in olive oil, with scallions, the last banger, garlic, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and cayenne flakes. Who can resist perfectly cooked collards with that brightness of the lemon and kick of the garlic and cayenne.

Tonight, though, the star may have been the last Elk Run 2001 Cabernet from the cellar. Yes, 2001. Thirteen years old. From Maryland. And still hanging in there. Light. Soft. Almost sweet, since the tannins have faded. Who says Maryland can’t make good wine?

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So, the lamb was from Mt. Airy. The wine was from Mt. Airy. Can’t get much closer for wine and meat. And, better than many restaurants. Not a bad start to grilling season, and spring in Maryland.


Just Us Chickens

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The total chicken post. For whatever reason we just have chickens everywhere we look. Watching the girls run around England Acres (and getting to feed them, if you want).

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Or, how about the tour tomorrow. See the Conservancy web site, if you want to join us. After all, chickens are immensely interesting.

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The baby chicks at Tractor Supply. I always get inspired and want to buy some and get a coop, but then we just “chicken out” for some reason. While we were there last week, I wanted to take a few pictures of the adorable chicks but they prohibit picture taking.

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The joys of free range chicken eggs. The colors. You don’t need to dye these eggs for Easter. They already are amazing in color and designs.

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Who can resist the lure of these fresh eggs, with so much flavor.


If It’s Thursday …

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… it must be market day.

Or maybe I should say basket day. Three months ago I decided to try out Friends and Farms, until the spring CSA starts up. Turns out I really like the variety of protein and the surprises like this one.

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That would be the buttermilk. Back when I started with the CSA I enjoyed the challenge of cooking with new vegetables. Now, we get grains, beans, polenta, monkfish, and other items that aren’t on my normal shopping list. It makes me think outside that rut filled box (mixing metaphors here) that we all fall into. Cooking in our comfort zone.

Looking ahead, next week is a doozy. Catfish and grits.

This week, bangers and mash.

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Along with the suggested chicken and waffles. Since I don’t have a waffle maker, I am considering scones or cornbread. Or maybe blueberry pancakes using up some of my Larriland berries from the freezer.

This week we are slowly moving into springtime. With my favorite tomatoes other than those I grow.

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Hummingbird Farms hydroponic tomatoes. Grown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

This week’s basket was huge.

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I had to use the wide angle setting. And this is a small basket.

We got edamame. That was a bonus. Spring greens. A mess of collard greens. Those tomatoes. Potatoes. Apples. Pea shoots. Onions. The bangers. Chicken. Breakfast sausage. I got yogurt for the eggs, and eggs for the milk. My standard switch. Grains Galore bread from the Breadery.

So far, it has been easy to use up the protein. The dairy, a little harder. The frozen items I occasionally forget to make, but I do get to them. We love the edamame as an appetizer.

So, today, I hit Wegmans for some tuna. Grilled it with the potatoes. Made a great salad using some spring mix, pea shoots, the last of the cucumbers from an earlier basket.

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I mean, after all, it is springtime and the weather just invited grilling. Since it may rain tomorrow, I am thinking it will be banger and mash night.