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Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Eagle Has Landed

Literally.

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In the back yard. Less than 100 yards from the kitchen window where I took this really awful picture, but I rushed it hoping he wouldn’t fly away. Which he did, about 10 seconds after the picture. The crows went nuts and he flew down the side of the property and hung around for a few minutes high in my neighbor’s tree. Then, tired of the crows circling and yammering at him, he headed off back towards Triadelphia Reservoir.

What brought him here? The dead deer out there. Probably a car-deer casualty. Which is now mostly hide, hoofs, head and chest cavity. The third one we know of, in our almost ten years here. Usually, we only know about them because of the turkey vultures.

But this morning at 7 am, my husband yelled up the stairs. EAGLE!!! In the back yard.

I’ll have to get up early tomorrow and see if he’s returned.

Just another Saturday in the rural western part of our little Central Maryland county.

Giving Thanks Again

Today. Instead of mindlessly spending money at crowded shopping centers. Like a number of my local counterparts, I completely avoid the downtown mall in Columbia and any of the megastores between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tomorrow I will go out and get the beginnings of our Christmas decorations, namely the garland and the poinsettias. From our local farms. I may head up to Breezy Willow to get some presents, but with the Howard County Conservancy holiday natural crafts fair next Saturday, the 6th, I may just do all my shopping there. Making my presents to friends and family completely locally sourced.

Today, though, we had our private Thanksgiving. Where we gave thanks for continued good health. For 35 years of Thanksgivings together. For friends who we will be seeing over the next few weeks at holiday parties. And family who will get together again for Christmas eve.

Yesterday we went to a family dinner, like we have done for most of these 35 years. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I made my first turkey as we were always in PA for Thanksgiving.

Now, we stay home. With no close relatives left on my husband’s side of the family, we no longer deal with the congested, sometimes icy and snowy trip up I-81. Watching the weather Tuesday night into Wednesday, I could understand the thoughts and actions of those trying to get home in bad weather.

Still, my MIL did the turkey in PA. My brother does the turkey here in MD. I never cooked a whole turkey in my life until 2006. Our second Thanksgiving after moving here. Our first without a trip to PA. We do Thanksgiving on Friday for us. Just a small “hen” from Boarman’s. This year was 12 pounds.

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This year I “did good” on the brining and the browning. Not so good on the gravy.

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Even though I washed off the brine before baking the bird, the pan drippings were too salty to make gravy. Happily, the turkey was moist enough not to need gravy and the stuffing was moist as well. We did a simple meal. Turkey. Stuffing baked on its own. Brussels sprouts. Dinner roll. And, I forgot to bring out my homemade cranberry relish.

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Served with a light pinot noir. Leftover pumpkin roll for dessert. As for that cranberry relish. It will get used with all the leftover turkey.

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I have a whole container full of breast meat to make meals. I also have the carcass and the innards in the crockpot making stock.

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Turkey soup next week on the menu definitely. Here’s to the holidays! Full of friends and family, and great local food.

Which Exit?

Cranberries from Jersey. Who knew, the third largest producing state in the USA.

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The treat in our Friends and Farms delivery. Along with this.

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Chocolate pumpkin bread.

But, let’s get back to those Jersey berries. I did a bit of internet digging and found some fun facts about New Jersey’s berry production. And some more about the Pine Barrens, a lovely part of Jersey, right up there in our list of great sites in Jersey, along with Cape May.

Right now, while quickly writing this post, I am making cranberry sauce for my Thanksgiving dinner. And contemplating how to use the rest of the basket this week.

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Looks good, doesn’t it? My other favorite, though, was the Atwater’s chicken broth. A new partner that will provide us with goodies like this one.

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Along with my Boarman’s sausage and Whole Foods bread cubes, the basis for this year’s dressing. Local, small business contributers to my holiday meals.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Squash’d

In the CSA box today.

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The mother of all butternut squashes. Believe me, at the site today, with about 8 of us there (as our truck was late due to the traffic on the interstates), we were all dealing with these behemoths. So big we had to carry them separately to our cars.

We had an early pick up date to accommodate the holiday. Now I have two weeks worth of stuff in the last five days. We did get some really good holiday choices though.

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Like baby spinach and white mushrooms. Perfect for a salad. Brussels sprouts and broccoli crowns. White turnips and Yukon gold potatoes. Sounds like a great base for holiday side dishes.

Along with last week, which I never recorded here.

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One humongous red cabbage. Destined to be married with the glut of apples in our fruit shares. A leek. Two white onions. A bag full of baby arugula. Cauliflower. Purple carrots and a celery root. I kept the celery root, carrots and onions aside to make soup after I do the turkey this weekend.

I love it when a plan comes together. Fall CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh is certainly delivering some of the freshest and some of the largest vegetables around.

We just signed up for winter CSA. Crossing our fingers we get enough participation to have 13 weeks of vegetables from January through April.

Now, off to contemplate what to do with that squash. I am considering “pumpkin” cookies for the crafts sale at the Howard County Conservancy on the 6th of December. We always have cookies out for those who attend. That squash would make a very large amount of cookies.

Small Business Christmas Trees

All this week and next, I will be focusing on small business shopping for Christmas. After all, the locavore in me spills over into other aspects of my shopping habits.

Let’s start with Christmas trees. To support your local farmers, you can get a tree at many sites in or close to Howard County. Some are “U-Cut”. Others like Gorman Farms work with farmers to bring in fresh trees for sale.

The U-Cut sites include Greenway in Woodbine and Cooksville, Pine Valley in Carroll County just north of I-70 off Rte. 97, TLV Tree Farm in Glenelg, Gaver Farm west of Mt. Airy, Feezers in Marriottsville, and Browning Farms on Penn Shop Rd near Mt. Airy (no web site).

For those in other parts of Maryland, here is the Maryland Christmas Tree Association’s list of U-Cut farms.

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We have cut trees at Greenway, TLV and Pine Valley. Where you go depends on what kind of tree you want. What size. We now tend to look for smaller trees so will pick a site that has graduated prices depending on tree size.

All of these sites will be open next weekend, and what better way to commemorate small business Saturday than to buy a local tree. Most of the sites also have pre-cut trees, wreaths, roping, and my personal favorite for my house, poinsettias are sold in the greenhouses at Greenway.

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Lunch at Ananda

My husband loves Indian food. So do I, but he is more into it. For years, he and his coworkers in DC went out for Indian lunches at least once a month.

So, for his birthday I suggested the newest Indian restaurant in Howard County. Ananda. Down there in Maple Lawn. With no way to know it’s a restaurant.

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Seriously. A lovely building. With no signs. Right across from the Columbia Academy (in Maple Lawn?), and Suntrust Bank. I wish it had been summer and we could have eaten outside, but the fireplace laden room serving lunch was very cozy and inviting.

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Guess what. I didn’t whip out the cell phone and photograph the food. Although I should have.

We really enjoyed the chicken tikka masala and the crab Malabar. And, my husband had TWO of the mango lassi drinks. Finished with cardamom tea.

We will definitely go back for dinner. Indian food, which is a little beyond my capabilities, is one of our favorite indulgences. This place delivers. If you don’t believe me, check out the HowChow posts.

Just south of APL. And it was doing a good business for lunch on a Wednesday. Check it out.

Pasta Anyone?

Solving the regular what’s for dinner without having to head to the store for things. Friends and Farms basket this week again had a theme and just about everything you needed to execute it.

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Full of ingredients to make Italian cuisine. This is the individual size basket, with just enough for the two of us, but a large basket would provide quite a few choices for the week before Thanksgiving.

I can make us three meals using this much linguine.

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And, that huge lovely living basil.

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Besides the basil, I love the inclusion in my “D week”, which is plain yogurt and eggs. The rotation where I substitute for milk by getting extra eggs.

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I found a recipe that makes a mushroom spinach carbonara, using the baby bellas, some of that spinach, a couple of egg yolks. Finish with some grated cheese. The recipe called for half and half, but I have been using plain yogurt to make a lighter creamy sauce.

In fact, I am contemplating a simple mix of some yogurt, chopped tomatoes, green pepper, onion and garlic. All of it right there in the basket. Maybe some sausage meatballs. I like “repurposing” the Italian sausage. I also considered saving two to make a simple dinner. Sausage, peppers, onion. Sautéed and served with a salad.

The possibilities here are endless. As for the chicken breasts hidden in the left of the picture above, they could be poached and used instead of sausage in a few of my favorite Italian recipes. Or, stuffed with basil pesto. There is always cheese in our fridge. Almonds in the freezer. Easy pesto.

That leaves the butternut squash and the apples for some other night. Roasted sounds good. Or maybe a soup.

Yep, Italian sounds good before all that turkey and stuffing and casseroles next week.