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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tabouleh Time

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Sometimes one item in a CSA box or a Friends and Farms basket will inspire me. This week, in our Friends and Farms individual share, there was a huge bunch of parsley. All I need to make tabouleh, that I don’t have, is red onion.

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Tabouleh only requires parsley, bulgur, tomatoes, onion, lemon, mint, olive oil and cucumber. Salt and pepper. I actually have bulgur in the pantry. This weekend I will be making my version. We will see how it turns out.

As for the rest of the basket, a peak into the insulated bag.

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This week is my eggs and yogurt week. I chose vanilla yogurt, to use up some of the fruit around here to make popsicles. More on that later, too. We got one large pork chop (in an individual basket, there isn’t that much meat, which is a good thing). We also got a small package of “party wings”. Grilled wings next Monday or Tuesday, I think. The pork chop was seared, then finished in the oven, for dinner tonight. A little lemon pepper and olive oil. That’s all.

Two ears of corn.

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They were also served at dinner. Can’t get much fresher than this.

The rest of the basket.

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One Savoy cabbage. One container of Baby Bellas (which will become mushroom sauce for a special dinner with filets of beef). Two green peppers. Three potatoes. Three Lodi apples. Four yellow and four purple plums from Catoctin Mountain Orchards. One cucumber (for that tabouleh).

I like the size of this basket. I like the fact that we only get bread every other week. Three weeks of eggs for us, as we get eggs instead of milk. Cheese once a month. Breakfast meat once a month. Yogurt once a month. A good rotation, so you can use it up and not waste it.

And, the plums are delicious. Can’t decide my favorite. But I love Catoctin Mountain Orchards. We like to drive up there and find little treasures in their market. They are just north of Thurmont, off of US 15.

A good basket this week. A way to use up some of my tomatoes, that’s for sure.

A Very Productive Day

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At least in the gardening world that is the center of my days.

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Bright and early today I was out for my last week as food bank coordinator. Getting all the wheelbarrows ready for collecting the harvest. Additionally we were clearing out beds to ready for fall planting. Add to that the collection of vegetables for the lucky winner of the Wine in the Garden auction. They got a basket full of fresh vegetables again.

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We had a large group there today. Probably ten of us. Maybe even a dozen. We harvested all the beets, carrots, cabbage and leeks. Then pulled the plants from the beds and readied them for planting. Weeded quite a bit too.

Our donation today was 110 pounds. I think this entire month we had at least 100 pounds of vegetables each week to take to the Howard County Food Bank. Today’s volunteer driver met some of the people waiting for the food bank to open, who expressed their thanks for what we donate.

We heard that our vegetables are greatly appreciated, as they are fresh and pesticide free.

Hats off to our volunteers today. We put in two to three hours of work each today. The gardens are flourishing in this lovely weather.

After my time in the food bank plots, I headed off to bring home my last leeks and a boatload of tomatoes.

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This is part of it. My “audition” tray for my county fair decisions. Which cherry tomatoes do I choose? Will I get enough medium tomatoes to enter? What are my best plum tomatoes?

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And, hooray, I got my first ripe heirlooms today. Two each of two different varieties. With a half dozen more close to ripening on the vines. Friday I have to decide which ones to enter.

Now, off to process those other tomatoes. The ones not pretty enough to enter.

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Yes, there are that many tomatoes sitting in my kitchen today. That’s not all, though.

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A basket of goodies for my neighbor, who lets us borrow assorted items, like his ten foot ladder.

Just another Tuesday in west county.

County Fair Prep

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Come on heirlooms!! The last tomatoes to ripen every summer. Making me anxious about the fair. I need two ripe tomatoes of the same variety. The Howard County Fair starts Saturday, and I need to get my vegetables and herbs ready for entry.

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I currently am drowning in tomatoes, and getting ready to process some tomorrow. Unfortunately those heirloom tomatoes on the tray are from the CSA, and not my garden. I have at least five German Johnson that are close to ripe. I hope to pick them Tuesday or Wednesday. I have enough cherry tomatoes to enter, and enough plum tomatoes. Need a couple more medium early girls to get the minimum for submission.

Besides tomatoes, this year I have enough onions to enter.

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There were 24 onions left in the ground last week. I had to find the five best out of them. Fun job. Besides the onions, I harvested the rest of the leeks and the shallots.

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My onion/garlic/shallot bowl is overflowing. Time to do some roasting and get them ready for winter.

I have herbs for entry. Just can’t figure out which ones I want to pick.

And, finally, enough variety to make the vegetable display, which needs five different varieties of vegetables.

See you at the Fair!

Is It Extreme #buylocalchallenge when …

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… it’s the normal way you live?

This isn’t a challenge. It’s our life. We can thank Friends and Farms, Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, Howard County farms and markets, and my garden for making the vast majority of our food come from local sources.

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Like this luscious fresh fruit in our CSA share. Without worries of bacteria. We got plums, peaches and blackberries from LFFC on Thursday. The plums are gone already. My husband must have had a couple with every lunch and dinner. They are so ripe, so flavorful.

LFFC also gave us this.

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In a half share.

Golden Beets
Rainbow carrots
Red potatoes
Royal burgundy beans
Ping Tung long eggplant
Heirloom tomatoes
Corn (I swapped zucchini for these)

I gave up four zucchini for two ears of corn. There is way too much zucchini in my garden.

As for the add ons.

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The cheese share included: Millich Kivvel, a raw milk cheese reminiscent of Camembert. Aged Goat Cheese, and Goat Feta.

The chicken:

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Thighs, drumsticks and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These chicken deliveries have been one very welcome addition to our food sources. Last week I slow baked legs and breasts. Served the legs for dinner and the breasts became the center of a Caesar salad for lunch.

I love having antibiotic free, hormone free chicken in our diet. Once you tasted free range chicken, it is really hard to settle for those bland tasteless store bought chickens.

As for Friends and Farms, and my individual share. We got ground beef and ahi. I forgot and put them away before documenting my food.

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There was a large quantity of heirloom squash in the bags. A few assorted tomatoes. Two peaches. Blackberries. Green beans. Kale. Frisee. Eggs and bread this week. Honey whole wheat from The Breadery.

Tonight for dinner I grilled the ahi. And some of the squash. Brushed with Italian dressing and seasoned with salt and pepper.

The individual basket is perfect when you have a garden, or for one or two people. I like getting bread biweekly and eggs three times a month. Cheese once a month. Breakfast meat once a month. A good rotation. One that we customized to fit our needs.

All in all, doing the Buy Local Challenge is easy, when you have local food sources delivering the bulk of your protein, dairy, vegetables and fruit.

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CSA chicken, with my onions. And CSA heirloom tomatoes. Dinner Thursday night.

Olive Oil and Pasta …

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… and so much more.

I have written about Secolari before. And, used their products in many of my favorite meals. Products like their oil and balsamic, their flavored salts. Plus, that lovely pasta from Pappardelle that they carry.

Now, I can add chocolate mint honey to my latest finds. I am thinking about the suggested use in iced lattes.

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Last night we had a bloggers’ get together at the Columbia Mall location with the owners highlighting some of their products. A “perk” so to speak of being a blogger around here.

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Goodies like popcorn with Black Truffle salt and Lime Olive Oil.

There was a good crowd there. Tasting the oils, the vinegars, the honey, and enjoying small bites from Zoe’s Kitchen, located across the promenade from Secolari.

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You don’t have to be a blogger to taste their products. Whenever you visit, you can sample before choosing your favorites. Barth and Mary deRosa have a wonderful shop here.

If you aren’t into oil and vinegar, but love pasta, they have a product for you. Pappardelle.

Another favorite of mine.

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This orzo, with the lemon infused oil, will be paired with these little gems.

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A baking sheet covered with my tomatoes and shallots. Slow cooked in a 200 degree oven. Tomorrow they will be mixed with the orzo and drizzled with oil. A very tasty salad.

Check out Secolari. Buy some pasta and olive oil. Indulge. Much better and so much cheaper than dinner in a restaurant.

Thanks Barth and Mary for hosting us last night.

The Harvest Begins …

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… in earnest. Before today, it was just ramping up. Now, we are moving into the period of time where I will be harvesting, roasting, freezing, canning and processing to fill the freezer for winter.

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Today’s community garden harvest. Minus the chard and the chives that I harvested to donate to the Food Bank. That was part of the 131 pounds we collected this morning.

The above food is just from my plot. The tomatoes! The first Big Boys.

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All in all, fifty ounces of tomatoes. Ten ounces of sungold and eighteen of supersweet 100s alone.

I also got my first three cubanelle peppers. With the weather changing to sunny and hot, I hope to see the peppers kicking in.

I did make the pesto with all the basil.

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Two cups of a mix of lemon and African blue basil. One cup of a mix of toasted pecans and almonds. 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Salt. Pepper. Olive oil. I got one whole ice cube tray plus about six ounces in an eight ounce container. All in the freezer now. In the dead of winter, nothing screams summer like pesto.

As for those Big Boys!

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They went into today’s lunch. A small side Caprese salad. With greens and blackberries there, too.

The next few weeks will see a mess in my kitchen. Canning jars. Food Saver bags. Vegetables. Fruit. Herbs. My favorite time in the summer. When it all gets enjoyed or saved for the winter.

Can’t “Beet” That Berry Salad

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A repeat for lunch today, with a few enhancements.

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Looks just like Saturday, doesn’t it? Except I kicked it up a bit. Made my own dressing.

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Jam jar dressing using locally produced items. Two tsp. of raspberry jelly. Two tbsp. plain yogurt. Splash of white balsamic vinegar. Two tbsp. olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of demerara sugar.

I used the Secolari brand oil and vinegar today. They are a family owned business located in Columbia Mall, and their original store in Bethesda.

This is “local” olive oil, so to speak. Only two states I know grow olives to make olive oil. California and Texas. This oil is from California.

The salad was made with the Baywater Greens Salisbury MD leaf lettuce. The raw milk gouda from PA. Chiogga and red beets from the Amish farms. Blackberries from Agriberry. Blueberries from PA. Walnuts not local. Bought in bulk at Wegmans.

Eating locally for lunch today, and again for dinner. I slow cooked some Wayne Nell pork. Made pulled pork sandwiches before heading out to Iron Bridge for a tasting. Served with a side of roasted vegetables from my garden.

Last night we went to Bistro Blanc for a “bottle Share” night. Had a few local items in that meal, too. They buy their beef locally and we had a very nice Angus tartare. And we took a local wine.

Brunch yesterday was an omelet with Miller Farm eggs. My tomatoes. My onions and shallots and leeks.

Breakfast today included those lovely berries with cereal.

I am doing well on the Buy Local Challenge.

Tomorrow I am making pesto with my basil. Some of it will make it into dinner, that’s for sure.

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Three days down. Six to go.

Extreme #buylocalchallenge

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As is eating something local at every meal. Easy to do if most of your food comes from a CSA, a regional food service, and your garden.

I count my garden as supporting local farmers as most of the plants were purchased from local farms. I don’t buy plants from national chains like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but from local farms like Sharp’s or Greenway. Both Howard County farms.

Today was the first day of the challenge. Breakfast included toast with CSA raspberry jam, for me. And for my husband, cereal with CSA blueberries.

Lunch for him. Tuna salad with my onions. For me, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, dipped in a yogurt dressing. Yogurt from PA. Cucumbers and tomatoes, my garden. Carrots, CSA.

Peaches from the CSA for a snack.

Dinner tonight.

Local wine!

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Big Cork, from Rohrersville MD. Ready to go to the table with some of my flowers from my front yard.

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CSA chicken thighs being baked with CSA potatoes, my onions and Wayne Nell smoked bacon (Friends and Farms supplier from York PA). They buy from farms in the area surrounding York.

The salad.

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Baywater Greens from Salisbury supplied the leaf lettuce. CSA spinach, beets, gouda, blueberries.

Oh, I forgot, there was corn on the cob, too. From the CSA.

Very little today that didn’t come locally. Off to a good start. On to Day Two tomorrow.

Friends and Farms “Buy Local”

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We got our Friends and Farms basket Thursday, just in time for the Buy Local Challenge.

I am happy to see at the Buy Local Website that they don’t require the farms and markets to be in Maryland. Just “local”.

Depending on where you live, food from across a state line may be more local than in state. Like for us. Cheese from Lancaster is closer than cheese from Firefly Farms in western MD. Not that we don’t love Firefly. It’s just that MD is a wide east west but narrow north south state.

For us, foods from MD, VA, WV, DE and PA are all considered local. Mostly within a 100 mile radius to our home.

Our Friends and Farms basket this week was full of local foods by that definition. We can take the Buy Local “Extreme” challenge and include local foods in every meal, using the goodness of our basket.

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The pork butt and bacon came from York PA. The chicken from Freebird, in the Lancaster area of PA. The eggs, from MD.

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Clinton MD. We also get some vegetables from Miller Farms too.

This week the lettuce was from Salisbury MD. That’s where Baywater Greens is located.

The berries, from VA. Agriberry blackberries.

We also got jalapenos. Cilantro. Sweet corn. Green peppers. An eggplant. Elephant garlic.

I added a quart of plain yogurt. Need to make tzatziki while the cucumbers are still producing.

It will be easy to eat locally with all this food. Along with my garden and my CSA. Who needs grocery stores? Oh yeah, toilet paper.

Agretti Anyone?

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A new one in this week’s CSA share.

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Agretti. Described here with a wonderful sounding recipe (to be dinner tomorrow night). This recipe is competing with the Mario Batali Babbo recipe for agretti with fennel and anchovy vinaigrette. But I don’t think I have anchovies at the moment.

The thing I love most about this CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh is that totally unexpected off the wall “CHOPPED” worthy vegetable that I never heard of before.

It is precisely why I keep coming back to them every year.

Today this is what we got.

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agretti – Eastbrook Produce
Chinese purple garlic – Eagle View Acres
green kale – Cherry Lane Organics (I swapped for lemon cucumbers)
8-ball zucchini – Red Fox Organics
red cherry tomatoes – Organic Willow Acres
red beets – Back Woods Organics
bicolor sweet corn – Healthy Harvest

5 peaches – IPM – Fifer Orchards
1 pint blueberries – Little Buck Organics
1 jar raspberry jam – Oak View Acres

breasts (1 pound)
whole leg (1 1/2 pounds)

I roasted the beets already, and had two ears of corn with dinner tonight. Beets will be sliced into salads. Cukes will go into a tzatziki. I am also making a ratatouille tomorrow night that will show up a few times. Once as that pie I mentioned yesterday.

The chicken breast will be poached and become salad.

Can’t wait to taste that agretti tomorrow night. Another new adventure. Thanks to LFFC.

Tomorrow I will talk about the Friends and Farms basket and how I will be taking the Buy Local Challenge to the EXTREME!

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By the way, the corn is awesome.