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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Mama Needs a Brand New Wok

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Courtesy of the modern day equivalent of the Sears catalog. It’s greens season and my wok started chipping. Not good for a non stick surface.


Out here Amazon seems to be the new Sears or Spiegel. When I can’t easily get something locally or from a small business, Amazon is the simplest. Better than that 35 mile round trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Especially if I can cobble together enough to get free shipping.

A simple stainless steel wok. To deal with all the greens coming from the CSA. This week and last week.


Today I picked up eight items in our next to last week of our summer CSA. Looking quite a bit like fall in that basket. Greens galore. Broccoli. Spinach. Tatsoi. Arugula. Add to that some large Beauregard sweet potatoes. A red butterhead lettuce. Butternut squash. Green and yellow peppers.

Last week’s basket was pretty fall like also. I never got around to posting about it. Here is what we got then.

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Red bok choy. Spinach. Radishes with greens (I did a swap to get two of them). Eggplant. Green beans. Celery root. Tuscan kale and broccoli.

So many of these items make perfect stir fry ingredients, so I am glad my wok arrived this morning.

Customer Appreciation

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How many of us have our food suppliers throw us a party. With craft beers, burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, and bratwurst. All served using The Breadery’s rolls. And, give us pumpkins to carve while socializing.

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Friends and Farms did that Monday night. With grilling. Corn hole. Pumpkin carving. A chance to meet new people who love regional foods. A chance to see what is behind that warehouse door. And, to break bread with the owners. Phil and Tim.

Phil manned the grill. Tim made sure everything else was running smoothly.

How many of you can say you know the owners of your food sources? You know, those Royal Ahold people who run Giant Food.

We met lots of friendly Howard Countians. Had a good time. Took a salad as the pot luck side dish. Using my arugula. Larriland beets. Firefly farms chevre.

It’s times like these that make me happy I live here. Where there are committed people who provide us with awesome baskets of food every week.

Like last week’s basket.

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That individual basket. Perfect for an active retired couple. Acorn squash. Carrots. Kale. Sweet potatoes. Garlic. Bay leaves. Jalapenos. Asian pears.

Plus,the perishables.

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Yogurt and eggs this week for us. With an extra request. Those amazing ravioli, from La Pasta.

Proteins were pork butt and chicken wings. Want a picture of a perfect dinner?

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Chicken legs. Ravioli. My garlic scape pesto. Fresh. Tasty. Easy.

Change who supplies your food. To one of the best local suppliers.

Rocks Beneath Our Feet

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You know what they say about vines struggling, and producing great wines? This is the epitome of that quote. The land under RdV vineyards. Before they built the winery.

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The caves are under the left wing of the building. The rooms with the vats and barrels, are to the right. The building itself, a work of art and architecture.

Rutger de Vink, a former Marine (pictured above on the left) wanted to show that Virginia can make world class wines. The kind that rivals Bordeaux. He now has close to 900 people who buy his wines on a subscription basis yearly. Because they are that good.

Release party for the 2011’s was yesterday. A beautiful day. We had great wine. And, goodies from some local food trucks.

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Crab and lobster salads. Awesome BBQ. Burritos made from scratch. All served up with Friends and Families.

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The quote does sum up how we feel about this small ambitious winery in the Shenandoah foothills. Thanks to Rutger and his team for giving us a little taste of Napa and Sonoma in our backyard.

Wines to save for anniversaries. And birthdays. Wines to put Virginia on the international map. This locavore/locapour loves them.


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As in apples, beets and cider. What I did today at Larriland.

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I have not been to Larriland since strawberry season this year. We just had too much in the garden and too many berries in our CSA fruit share.

But, I can’t resist picking apples.

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Or at least trying to pick apples. I think there were more on the ground than in the trees. People obviously don’t read the instructions. Unfortunately, in no time at all, little critters chomp on the ground fruit, or people step on them.

And, don’t let me get started about beet etiquette.

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Ever try walking in the rows, where people just dump beets they don’t want. Or, trying to step through all the greens that were cut off, in order to make a lower weight. People do amaze me with how they waste good food.

I harvested eight pounds of beets. About five were beets. Two were greens, and one pound of waste. Yep, I paid for a pound of things I culled out while cleaning the beets. Does it bother me? NO!

I also picked 25 pounds of apples.

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Four different varieties. Mostly enterprise. A few pounds each of Braeburn, Fuji, and Suncrisp. There will be crockpot spiced apples made this weekend. This time, though, I will be putting it in ice cube trays to freeze. I like this method of making yogurt ready sizes.

I also picked up a few gourds and baby pumpkins to decorate our dining room table.

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One more week to go. I may be out there buying more apple cider. I like their version of it, and they say we can freeze it. I may be freezing ice cube sized cider cubes to use in cooking. It works wonders with cabbage, or in soups, or with chicken or sausage. Or, as a dressing base.

A lovely weekend ahead. If you get a chance, visit the farm. It’s a beautiful location.

What to Do?

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This weekend. There are so many things happening around here. Almost too much to write about. It is the height of fall foliage season.

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This is the view from the farm right next to the Living Farm Heritage Museum. They are across the road from the Howard County Fairgrounds.

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The museum has hayrides Sunday. With costumed characters and treats for the children.

How about apple picking? Or pumpkins? Or a corn maze? Larriland is still open until next weekend. I will probably be there tomorrow stocking up on cider, and picking some apples, and maybe some beets to pickle for the winter.


Maybe my own personal favorite farm in the area. Sharps at Waterford. They have a huge corn maze. Pumpkins. Their fall fun day open house is on the 1st of November, but they are open this weekend too.

Have you ever done a corn maze? This is the time of year we have them all over the county.

While you visit our local farms, pick up some cooking pumpkins. Or some apples and cider. Or jams, jellies and apple butters.


Fall is a special season . Lots to do around here.

Soup People

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Some are. Some aren’t. We obviously are. Considering the number of times I have blogged about soup.

Particularly, a good quick soup.

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Like bean soup, without all the preparations I used for the one above.

This one was simple. Because. It is cold and rainy. I didn’t feel like roasting a chicken today as I was out of the house too much.

But, I have my trusty pantry.

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You know. You can pull a couple of cans of beans. Today I used the cannellini beans. Two cans. I had chicken breasts cooked.

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I always have chicken in the freezer, from my two sources. Every week I find a day to bake or poach chicken breasts. To have them ready for lunches or dinners. They get eaten quickly.

Then, a little flavor. Today it came from a box of Pacific condensed cream of mushroom soup. And, a couple of cubes of my latest pesto. Right out of the freezer.

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Dump it all in a crockpot. With a little bit of water. Dinner in a few hours, with no stirring or pot watching. I did tonight’s batch on a high setting. It was perfect after two hours in the pot. Served with some naan. And a salad. And, of course, a glass of Linden chardonnay.

Test Drives

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Fall. Winter. Spring. The seasons where there aren’t as many options to get local, regional, seasonal, fresh foods. The farmer’s markets, one by one, shut down in early November.

There are options out there, though. Here in Howard County, there are year round choices. Like Friends and Farms, who uses Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) foods from a New York farm to supplement those winter root veggies, and who contracts for citrus from the Southeast.


Foods like these. Or their tomato puree. I started with Friends and Farms in January last year. Bought a four week subscription, a small basket. Now I am buying a 13 week subscription and using an individual basket to supplement my garden and my CSA.

My CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, has a seven week fall extension. The individual share is only $20 a week, for fresh organic vegetables.

Like these from last week.

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Fennel, radishes, leeks, cauliflower (white and green, the green was in the swap box), romaine, green beans, sweet peppers and red beets. Seriously. Nine organic vegetables averaging $2.20 each. You can’t come close to this pricing in any natural food store.

Other options around here. Some we tried and liked. Some we haven’t. Love Dove Farms offers an eight week fall CSA. Breezy Willow, a spring option from March until May. Zahradka Farm, delivers a winter option to your doorstep from January through April.

If you ever considered one of these for the winter, check out the links on my Local Resources page.

Or, keep your local food sources alive by hitting the weekend farm stands, or the weekend markets that are year round. The Howard County farmer’s markets may be closing soon for the season, but you still can find small farms and businesses to supply you with the best vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy.


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Quite a prolific producer and one that I will be putting in our garden next year.

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These little wonders, which can grow really long, are very hardy, and can produce far into the fall. I have had the pleasure of getting them from a friend’s garden, while they are away, and yes, even when they are here. They are such a high yield plant, they can’t keep up with the production from just a few seedlings.

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And, they love to hide in the center of the vines, where you can’t find them until they get quite large. I missed this one last week while we were food bank harvesting, and another one even bigger, at the top of one of the trellises. Thankfully, they came home and could get the latest monsters out of the vines.

This Italian heirloom is not the same as a zucchini, but is closer to the butternut squash. It is a cucurbita moschata.

What is interesting to me was finding a picture from a trip to Italy years ago.

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I never noticed the tromboncino hanging to the left of the door in the above picture. They obviously can grow to great lengths.

I have been making fritters with them. Freezing the fritters. Also freezing the shredded vegetable in two cup bags. Perfect to pull out to make bread all winter. They are a little more like yellow squash in taste, and definitely not as water logged as zucchini.

Thanks to a fellow gardener, I have a new vegetable to try. I am currently drying out some of the seeds from the last one I harvested. Next spring, I will be planting my own.

Arctic Char

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Before, during and after.

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We got arctic char today in our Friends and Farms basket. It is one of my favorite fish. A cross in taste between salmon and trout.

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It even reminds me of trout with its spotted skin.

I did a simple marinade, and a simple preparation today. To celebrate the freshness of this fish.

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Citrusy in base. With that hint of licorice from the fennel fronds. I used a tablespoon of lemon olive oil. A teaspoon of Ponzu. A tablespoon of Triple Sec. Lemon jest and juice. Salt and pepper.

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Before putting it in to bake, at 400 degrees, I added a drizzle of Asiago peppercorn dressing.

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Served with steamed green beans and goat cheese stuffed sweet peppers.

And a dynamite Chardonnay. Easily a $100 a couple at a restaurant. A fraction of that in my dining room. Easy. Quick. Absolutely satisfying in flavor.

The rest of the CSA tomorrow. But, this is a great start.

The Food Bank Garden

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For most of this summer and fall, I head out every Tuesday morning to volunteer at the Food Bank garden plot, in our community gardens at the Howard County Conservancy. Besides putting together the bags full of ripe vegetables, it has been a real learning experience for me as a gardener. I am of the opinion that we are never too old to learn new things, so whenever I can benefit from someone else’s knowledge, I jump at the chance.

This summer I learned about many new vegetables. New gardening techniques. New recipes for some of the new vegetables. I also learned while there, that a small unselfish group of people come out almost every week to give their time, and/or to add personal garden items to our donations.

This year, we have already surpassed our previous grand total. I think we are at about 3/4 ton of food donated. We have some vegetables that keep on giving, week after week for months on end.

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Like these collard greens. We are getting large bags full of these leaves every single week. And, they still keep putting out new growth. The other amazing producer is chard.

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The rainbow chard shown here has been going strong all summer. The member who gardens this plot has told us to thin it each week until a hard frost dies it off. I got pounds of this colorful vegetable yesterday.

A third big producer is kale. All sorts of kale are grown in our gardens. Tuscan. Curly. And, Russian.

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The Red Russian kale is more delicate, and buttery in flavor. Easier to cook. Kale, by the way, is even better after a first frost so we hope to have fresh food to donate for a number of weeks to come.

In early August, we replanted the area with carrots and beets.

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They aren’t quite ready to harvest yet, but we have been thinning them to let the rows have enough room for the plants to get larger. That means we harvest baby beets, or beet greens, or carrot tops. Beet greens and carrot tops. For those in the know, beet greens are one outstandingly good sautéed green. Particularly those little greens pulled out before the beets develop.

I also learned of a new variety of cabbage. Pointed cabbage. Also called sweetheart cabbage.

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We harvested six of these yesterday, and four a week ago. Another thing learned this summer. Cabbage will regenerate smaller heads if you carefully cut out the ripe large one on a plant.

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There will be small heads of cabbage forming around the center area where we removed the first one last week.

As for techniques, this one picture from our August work party, just before a dozen volunteers descended upon the gardens shows two of them I learned.

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I learned a better way to trellis tomato plants, using rebar and string. My plants this summer, heavy with fruit were causing my cages to lean. I had to resort to rebar to keep them from crashing over. I also learned how to use hoops and row cover to my advantage. To prolong a harvest, keep out harmful insects and keep frost from settling on my delicate plants.

All in all, I was given quite a bit of knowledge this summer in exchange for a few hours of work. Not a bad deal at all.