RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Yes, OM, that’s Two Eight Alpha

Posted on

Only fellow hams will get the significance of the title. Fellow Field Day participants know it means twenty eight transmitters using auxiliary power. W3AO has done this a number of years and this year, operating “portable” as W1AW, continued the tradition of putting as many people on the air as there are ways to transmit.

w1aw day two 008

There were fourteen HF stations in the main tent, and the GetOnTheAir(GOTA) station, too. Two of the fourteen were RTTY. The rest, CW and phone on 10,15,20,40,80 and 160 meters.

The antennas.

w1aw day two 037

For HF, a mix of yagis and beams in two roughly parallel lines spanning the fields. Layout was made to eliminate interference. There were wire antennas for 80 and 160 meters.

VHF had their towers set up around their operating tent.

w1aw day two 051

As for those satellite guys.

w1aw day two 049

They contacted the Space Station early the first day. Rarer these days, since the current residents aren’t as active on the air as the former Canadian astronaut was.

We had lots of visitors both days, and lots of interest, including a remake for the ten year anniversary of the LAST BIG FIELD DAY, by ARVN.

w1aw day two 030

We also get quite a bit of interest in how well we feed our operators. After all, we enjoy spoiling them.

w1aw day two 026

One of the Saturday lunch platters.

w1aw day two 027

The sloppy joes.

w1aw day two 028

The fruit, cookies and brownies.

Many, many people contribute. Here’s a partial list.

w1aw day two 004

Yes, W3LPL brings two miles of coax. And, quite a few of his “spare” antennas.

KE3Q brings one dozen “rocket launchers” on a trailer. We have computers at every station. These guys are simply amazing. If you have a disaster in your area, you just need to call on them to help with communications. These two clubs can set up towers, crank up the generators, set up comm stations and be ready to assist.

And, we have lots of fun during field day. Even if they are all a bit competitive. Hi Hi.

More tomorrow. When KD4D gets enough sleep to give us the total contacts.

W1AW/3 aka W3AO

Posted on

It’s Field Day weekend. The weekend each year that my husband joins about 100 fellow club amateur radio operators, friends and family at a local school field to exercise their radio operating skills in remote, or portable, or emergency conditions. You all know the phrase, practice makes perfect. So, once a year the USA and Canada conduct this weekend event. Putting radio stations on the air all over the two countries.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). For Field Day the Columbia Amateur Radio Association and the Potomac Valley Radio Club get to use the national organization’s call sign W1AW portable 3. We in MD are in the “3” region of the country. The headquarters is located in New England, the “1” region. Since we are licensed to use their call sign for a week of the centennial, we will be using it for Field Day.

Instead of our usual club call sign. W3AO. I did a series last year on our Field Day. W3AO is extremely organized, competitive, yet one of the nicest groups of people you could ever meet.

Today about 30-40 of us were out there setting up the towers, antennas, laying coaxial cable, and getting ready for tomorrow.

A few fun pictures of set up day.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 005

Generator. Check. Air Conditioner. Check. Say What? Air conditioner? Yes, when you bring all the generators and have built them for us, you do get to bring your own portable unit to keep the VHF tent THE PLACE TO BE when it’s 90 plus degrees out there.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 029

Working on the power to the main tent.

Then there’s our solar unit, to get those points.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 035

We also have the satellite tent being set up with all their equipment right outside their tent flap.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 039

They were on the air late this afternoon using our club call to be sure everything was set up. The rest of the radios and computers will be set up tomorrow.

This was a really great group. All eleven bases of the AB-577s, the crank up towers, were in place in less than two hours.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 004

Being level is important.

Coaxial cable was all in place before six pm today. We spent less than 10 hours out there today. Tomorrow it’s just a few more hours of radios, computers, power up and check out, before beginning on the air at 2 pm local time.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 031

How many miles of cable do we use? Answer tomorrow.

As for all the planning, a small group does so much of it. This picture is one of my favorites from today.

w1aw aka w3ao field day 018

K3RA, Rol, who gets us all organized, with his XYL, Audrey, who is in charge of feeding us all. After all, we know an army marches on its stomach. Along with Jim, N3KTV, seen above unrolling cable, they keep us focused and busy getting prepared.

Time to shut this down and sleep before the fun begins. Come visit us at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School tomorrow. We may put you on the air, as W3AO. I think I will operate our Get On The Air (GOTA) station. After all, W3AO holds all sorts of records, and this year the GOTA station is using that call sign, while the rest of the club uses W1AW/3.

Lock Those Car Doors!

Posted on

It’s zucchini season.

fandflffcjune26 029

You must act now to keep gardeners from leaving zucchini in the back seat of your car! I swear you can watch them grow.

We got zucchini today from three sources. In the CSA. In the Friends and Farms basket. And from my garden. Bread is in the future. Chocolate zucchini bread, that is.

A quick look at what we got from our local and regional sources for food.

fandflffcjune26 010

Friends and Farms gave us heirloom zucchini, tomatoes, a cucumber, white potatoes, green bell peppers, leaf lettuce and scallions. The fruit was a pint of blueberries. I picked white bread this week. Eggs. Swordfish. Beef kabob cubes. This is an individual basket. Just the right size for a couple who have a garden, and a CSA subscription.

The greens are already gone. They were in tonight’s salad.

As for Lancaster Farm Fresh and our half share CSA.

fandflffcjune26 015

Eight items in the vegetable share. Two pints of organic blueberries in the fruit share. Three lovely cheeses. Chicken share a mix of boneless skinless breast meat and whole legs.

The veggie share. Eight ball zucchini. Green cabbage. Peas in the shell. Green beans. Pickling cukes. One large slicing cucumber. New red potatoes. And heirloom spinach (which was supposed to be kale, but I swapped).

fandflffcjune26 017

Gouda, cheddar and bleu cheese. Every month a threesome of interesting fresh, mostly raw milk cheeses.

I don’t need grocery stores. I have it all in our “grand slam”. CSA. Friends and Farms. Our garden. Jenny’s market. Where today I picked up oranges to make my fennel salad. A few grapes and plums for my husband’s fruit fix.

Here’s to eating what is freshest and from small local sources. And, that garden thing.

Zucchini anyone? I can deliver.


The New Blogs in Town

Posted on

Howard County has been blessed with some really interesting writers, particularly when it comes to food. Using hocoblogs and HowChow as my go-to sources and my morning coffee accompaniment, I get what is happening in and around the area. And find new things to cook. And to blog about.

Like my latest finds in the food world.

Three Beans on a String. A fellow LFFC CSAer who loves to cook and takes amazing photographs. I met Elizabeth at Petit Louis Bistro, at a hocoblogs party there. I regularly read her posts and envy her photography skills. Her food looks great. I bet it tastes that good also.

The Unmanly Chef. Love the name. Jessie from hocoblogs sent me a link. HowChow had him guest post today. I see from that post we are both customers of Friends and Farms. And, I have to get my hands on these skewers, highlighted in his kabob post. I also need to try the egg in my kofta.

The Bare Midriff. Yes, Elizabeth’s blog isn’t new, just new on my regular reading list, that I just updated. I have been reading her blog for a while, but haven’t written about it. We met at the Gadsby event, another hocoblogs get together.

catfish friends april 17 flowers 024

venison, gardens and petit louis bistro 067

Next month we have an event planned at Secolari, my favorite place for olive oil, seasoned salts, vinegars, and of course, that awesome Pappardalle’s pasta. More on the event later.


Now, it’s nice to see more company on the food blogs column of hocoblogs. Bon Appetit!


Inner Beauty

Posted on

Growing your own food you quickly realize that ugly food is the norm when you have Mother Nature and a host of insects and small critters feasting when you aren’t looking.

I have gotten used to cutting out nibble marks in cucumbers. Ignoring the stink bug marks on tomatoes. And, reconciling myself to holes in the greens.

Still, I am always amazed when someone rejects great tasting food, fresh and just from the ground, because of imperfections on the surface.

In the past year or so, I have encountered this aversion to ugly food at farmer’s markets. Larriland. Food bank gardens. My mother (yes, mom, who didn’t like the dark spots in my potatoes).

I think too many people have become so enamored of those waxed vegetables in the supermarket. The blemish free fruit. They surely realize, I hope, that they drive up the cost of food.

Take tomatoes, for example.

processing foods, tomatoes, beets, eggplant 010

Heirlooms can be really ugly. But they have incredible taste. They will split, look deformed, and pretty much become the ugly ducklings on the farm stands. Last summer, we picked some beautiful heirlooms one Sunday morning volunteering at the Community Action Council’s garden. Many were rejected as being not good enough in appearance to take to the Food Bank. We were offered those tomatoes to take home with us or they would go into the trash piles. To me, throwing away good food is a crime, but since I grow my own and get lots of other varieties from my CSA, I didn’t need to take more on.

A few volunteers did take them to make tomato sauce. Who cares if they are split if you are going to simmer them down to yumminess.

I thought also about those gorgeous red fig tomatoes I grew a few years back. Grown at the historical gardens at the Conservancy. I bought a few plants at their plant sale to put in my own garden. Loved them.

garden and fiddlers 042

The Food Bank said they weren’t popular. They were discontinued in the garden in 2013. These little gems were so sweet, so concentrated, but they aren’t familiar so they weren’t taken.

As for Larriland, I can’t believe the amount of food that is left on the ground. Mostly because it was picked but not perfect, so it was tossed. Berries. Tomatoes. Peaches. Apples. The list goes on.

No, I am not talking about fruit that falls off the vines and the trees. You can’t help but see people in the row across from you, picking things and dropping them because they have flaws. Or, aren’t ripe yet. The waste of food boggles my mind sometimes.

With strawberries, the imperfect ones still go in my basket if I picked them. They become the basis for my strawberry ice cubes. Cutting the blemishes out. If you grew them yourself, you would use them. I can’t get past this obsession for flawless food. No wonder prices keep rising.

I know I don’t hold the same views as people who believe it must be perfect if they are paying for it. At least these days those less than perfect items get used for the soup or salad bars, or in any of those prepared foods on those food bars in places like Wegmans. There you can pay $8 a pound for veggies and fruit that would have cost $2 or $3 a pound if you bought them raw.

Unfortunately our farmers at the markets don’t have that luxury, as foods that aren’t bought become feed for their animals, or hit the compost pile.

As for those potatoes my mother didn’t like. They had small blemishes on the surface that translated into dark spots inside. You had to cut them out. The potatoes. Heirlooms. Blue or purple or pink. With amazing flavor. Just ugly.

bean soup, markets and finds 016

Do me a favor. Buy some ugly duckling items at the bargain prices the farmers charge at the markets. Give them some love and a little time. The freshness of the product is worth the small loss of a fraction of an ounce for cutting out the blemished spots.


A Decade of Summers

Posted on

Our tenth summer here. Time flies. The trees are much larger. The bushes growing together. It is even more private than when we arrived. Not quite as quiet, though. More development brought more traffic.

But still, summer out here is lived outdoors. Either mowing or weeding or trimming or harvesting or eating or drinking or whatever. I spend so much time outdoors. Watching the animals. The birds. The snakes. Yes, the snakes. Life in the country is always an adventure.

We also eat more meals at home. Shop closer to home. I almost titled this post, summer salad days, because we have transitioned into the summer routine of salads for lunch, and a big component of dinner.

It’s too hot some days to cook. Or, our appetites are affected by the heat.

We stopped up at the garden after dinner at Iron Bridge tonight. Tried to decide if we wanted to stand in that long line at the Woodstock snowball stand. Decided instead to come home for leftover crumble with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

larriland blueberries and my garden 039

Blueberry season opens this weekend at Larriland. I never went to Larriland when we lived in Columbia. Now, it’s a couple of times a month. Peaches and blackberries after the blueberries.

w3ao 2013 day two 001

Getting ready for field day this weekend with the radio club. Hoping we don’t get storms.

garden and fiddlers 021

Tomorrow I need to go and vote. Thursday is Fiddlers and Fireflies, a summer staple in this part of the county, out at the Conservancy. Things don’t always slow down around here when it’s warm.

Here’s to summertime. Officially here last weekend. To lazy days with minimal fuss.

al fresco july evening 007

To that perfect Caprese salad.

To Life in the Slow Lane.


Grill From the Garden

Posted on

Tonight’s dinner brought to us by the ripening cucumbers and zucchini in the garden.

solstice weekend 057

I picked three cucumbers this morning and two baby zucchini. Along with my first tomato, some dill, and a pound of kale and rainbow chard.

Cucumbers. Dill. What does that mean?

solstice weekend 061

Tzatziki. A plop of plain yogurt. One diced cucumber. Teaspoon of fresh dill. Squeeze of lemon. Salt. Pepper.

solstice weekend 071

All without hitting a grocery store. The lemons came from Jenny’s market, as did a few other things I am using for salads this week. And the potatoes.

solstice weekend 077

I put some teeny potatoes in the grill with my CSA asparagus and the zucchini from the garden. Great side dish.

solstice weekend 079

Made a couple kofta. One pound of England Acres lamb. Handful of scallions from the garden. Garam masala, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Olive oil. Perfect with tzatziki.

solstice weekend 082

Great with a pinot noir. And a homemade dessert.

solstice weekend 059

Strawberry rhubarb crumble. Compliments of Smitten Kitchen.

I think this was a win in the “eat local” column.


Viva La Difference!

Posted on

Five weeks in. Two different sources of local and regional food. They have their strengths and a couple of weaknesses. But, all in all, they are a good fit for how I cook.

How is a CSA different from the regional buying service? I think I am getting there at understanding it all.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Seventy five farms in Amish country. Almost all of them organic. Lots of options, but you pay for the whole season up front.

This year I picked a half share. Since I have a garden. And my Friends and Farms subscription.

That means I get 4-7 organic items weekly. This week we got six items.

june19 food deliveries 050

The spring heavy veggies, as PA is slightly behind us in MD, season wise.

A large Napa cabbage on the right. A robust head of romaine. Enough garlic scapes to make more pesto. A healthy amount of snow peas. Three kohlrabi. And a bunch of asparagus.

This year I added on a couple of extras. Like a fruit share.

june19 food deliveries 061

This week, strawberries and rhubarb. Perfect to make a crisp or crumble.

The chicken share. Every week, 3-4 pounds of chicken. This week.

june19 food deliveries 055

A whole heritage bird. I really enjoy grilling or roasting these chickens, and making stock from the skin, bones and innards.

As for my other major food source, Friends and Farms. We are signed up for an individual share this summer. A thirteen week commitment. We have also done a small share when it isn’t CSA or gardening season.

I like getting the mix of veggies, fruit, protein, dairy and bread.

This week. The protein.

june19 food deliveries 065

Andouille sausage. Bacon. Chicken breasts. The Andouille was dinner tonight. With a side of braised cabbage. The chicken. Will be a stir fry Sunday. This week we also got a dozen eggs. And, these veggies and a fruit.

june19 food deliveries 071

An onion. Garlic. Kohlrabi. A yellow squash. Tomatoes. Radishes. Kale. Blueberries.

My add ons this week. A way to get more without going to a store.

june19 food deliveries 062

Yogurt, to make tzatziki and a few dressings. Butter, not pictured.

As for the ice cream. Given as a credit because some of the mussels last week were cracked or dead. As usual, the company comes through if the products aren’t up to their standards.

Between these two sources, we get a huge majority of our food. One requires a season paid in advance, and not a large amount of substitution. But the quality is excellent. As is the variety.

The other. Excellent flexibility and customization options.

Who needs Giant Food? Or the new Whole Paycheck coming to Columbia? Not those of us who know we get great food at better pricing than Whole Paycheck, and better quality than Giant.


Kohlrabi Squared

Posted on

Yep, both weekly sources of local, regional food gave us kohlrabi this week.

june19 food deliveries 074

Six of the little “sputniks”. One of the stranger vegetables we see. But, what flavor. I like it as a slaw ingredient. I like it sliced thinly and eaten raw.

I really like my Indian inspired recipe. Yum, garam masala and apple. What could be better?

Tomorrow I will do the post about what we got this week, but right now, I want to talk about challenging ourselves. Cooking outside our comfort zone.

Keeping that kohlrabi out of the swap box.

To me, the real joy of community supported agriculture and regional food buying “cooperatives”, somewhat like our Friends and Farms subscription, is the surprise factor. The impetus to try something new.

Now, in my fourth summer, nothing much really surprises us. We are veterans of the “Say What?” club. And, we have expanded our cooking skills in directions we never imagined.

As for these kohlrabi, I will make a slaw. I will grill some. I might braise one or two.


The Garden Update

Posted on

The heat of summer is making the gardens grow. Last weekend I noted big differences in the size of my plants, and my harvest has expanded.fathers day weekend 015

So far I have harvested 76 green onions, or scallions. From the white onions and the yellow onions in the plot. I also harvested about a dozen baby leeks. What is left now will be allowed to grow to maturity and harvesting later this summer.

I did notice a few of my onions had flowered. I snipped the flowers off and hope the onions won’t be affected.

As for tomatoes.

fathers day weekend 023

These are the early girl variety. This plant has four. The other plant has three. Besides these, the supersweet 100s have small tomatoes on them. Maybe I will have tomatoes by the first of July.

fathers day weekend 027

Zucchini blossoms. On all the plants, and a couple very tiny zucchini on two of them. The cucumbers are starting also. I have maybe a half dozen tiny cukes forming.

I also harvested my first sweet banana peppers. Four of them to date.

Everything else looks healthy these days. Tomorrow I need to go and water them early, and see if I might have my first small zucchini to take home.

The chard and kale are slowing down, but still producing.

farm fresh 010

I have harvested pounds of them and given at least a pound to the Food Bank when they have been collecting on Tuesday mornings.

Can’t wait for tomato season!