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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Surf and Turf

Friends and Farms style. When you get an individual basket, sometimes your protein is a bit small. So, you improvise.

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Like with a small New York strip steak. And a couple of strips of cod. The cod isn’t pictured above. I had already put it away to guarantee freshness. I baked the cod with mustard and breadcrumbs. Sautéed the steak with garlic powder and pepper. Made a couple of potatoes. And, got rid of the spinach from two weeks ago.

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The spinach was from October 30th, and yes, it still looked like what I put away then. The great thing about really fresh produce is the fact that it keeps much longer than store bought stuff.

I did a simple creamed spinach. Using sour cream, spinach, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

No, I didn’t take pictures tonight. It wasn’t particularly picture worthy, but it was tasty.

As for the rest of the Friends and Farms basket this week, here it is.

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A couple carrots, turnips, apples, some rosemary, a cabbage, spring mix, a leek, and pea shoots. I love these pea shoots. Put them on top a frittata. On a salad. Just munched on them after I got them. A good mix this week.

Gleaning

By definition, gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.

It’s what we were doing last Tuesday on our food bank gardens. Almost everything is gone. Except for some greens. There was still enough out there to do one more harvest.

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I called what we got from the collards, baby collard greens on the label on the bag. We still got a large blue recycling bag full of collards from these long producing plants.

As for the rainbow chard,

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you could still find lovely baby chard nestled between the stems of the past harvests.

And, that Russian kale.

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Before we pulled the plants out of the ground, we found quite a bit of it to harvest.

Beets and carrots.

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What we couldn’t get for the food bank, like bundles of carrot tops, we used to feed the goats at the Conservancy. It seems they love carrot tops. We did get a good harvest of baby beets and beet greens.

Last act before leaving, pulling those immature cabbages, for anyone who wanted to make cabbage soup. Not big enough to use, but yet edible, these little morsels would make a tasty treat.

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We have learned much from our food bank harvesting. We know what can be used, and what is just too messed up, or tiny, or “weird” to use. I get it. People in our CSA won’t take strange vegetables that are harder to cook. A handful of cabbage leaves isn’t enough to donate, so they either go to waste, or we find a volunteer willing to use them.

Next year, our plots will be planted with varieties that are easily cooked or processed. Exotic vegetables aren’t the way to go, nor are plants that don’t provide a prolific harvest. A handful of something isn’t useful. We need to be harvesting bags full.

Twas the Night Before Pick Up

Thursdays are CSA and Friends and Farms pick up day. The night before pick up is usually when we get serious about finishing off what we got the previous week. I blogged earlier in the week about the last week of our summer CSA, but held off talking about last week’s Friends and Farms basket so I could talk about what I did with it.

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Like these proteins found in our individual share. All gone. Eggs. Frittata. Egg salad. Sunday breakfast over easy. Chicken thighs. Baked and served with rice and tomatoes. It made two dinners. We finished the leftovers tonight. Ribs. Slow cooked with a dry rub, for five hours Thursday when I got home. Bacon. Baked. Used with greens. And in the frittata, and on the egg salad sandwich one day. There’s a few pieces left to be used with the last of the greens tomorrow night.

The rest of the basket.

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Raw Virginia peanuts. Spread on a baking sheet and roasted. Half went into granola I made. The other half used in a few salads and as a snack while watching football. Apples and pears. Eaten with lunches. Sweet potatoes. Baked to serve with a lamb stew last weekend.

Spaghetti squash. Baked and served with Parmesan and butter. Tomatoes. Used on egg salad, and in the lamb stew the other day.

Bok choy and collards. Still hanging around the fridge. Thankfully, greens keep well when they are this fresh. I am making a stir fry Friday to use the bok choy. The collards? Will be a side dish with the cod we are getting tomorrow.

If you ever wanted to test a food service, this individual basket is a good beginning. It shows you the quality of the food, without drowning you in quantity.

To Honor Our Dads

Both our dads served in World War II.

My dad:

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A SeaBee. Construction Battalion. Enlisted at 17. Built airfields all across the South Pacific. Including the one at Okinawa, where my nephew is deployed, and a pilot flying out from those airfields. Truly something special for us, as he was in high school when my dad passed away. He never saw him graduate from Annapolis, or earn his wings.

My FIL. Ten years older than my dad, and a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Corps.

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Their paths may have crossed in the South Pacific. Like on Thanksgiving.

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We have my FIL’s service memory album.

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My mom probably has most of my dad’s paperwork. But, my MIL and FIL passed away and we have all of it. For most of us in my generation, our families were touched by WWII. So Veterans Day means a lot to us.

We are thankful they returned, met and married our moms, and we were born into this great country. For us, Veterans Day is special. Personal. We will never forget the sacrifices our servicemen made.

Autumn in West County

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Sure signs that autumn has arrived in western Howard County.

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Boarman’s changes their signs from beer specials to ordering meats for the holidays. I was there today to order my Maple Lawn turkey, some of their homemade pork sausage for stuffing, and oysters to make an oyster stew. To be picked up for Thanksgiving weekend. Also to get a BotaBox to use for cooking. One stop shopping, including wine, beer and spirits. Gotta love the place.

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WSSC has their signs up, telling us when deer management hunts will take place at Pigtail and Big Branch (on our side of the reservoir). The water level is low. Not sure how easy it is right now to get canoes or kayaks in at either of these sites.

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Further up the road, TLV has their tree sign next to their pumpkin bale.

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As for hay bales, it looks like many of the farms have their hay cut and baled for collection.

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And then there are the last of the leaves coming down, and the sound of leaf blowers and vacuums. Like here at home.

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Over 100 bags already done this season, with our rake and take partners picking them up regularly to use in their compost piles. We have a small one behind the shed, but trees this big and this old put out one heck of a mountain of leaves.

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It is pretty, though, isn’t it?

The CSA and Market Official End to Summer

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The markets are ending all over the county. A few have a week or so to go. Tomorrow is the last Ellicott City market. As for our CSA, yesterday we picked up our last summer share. There were 44 of us at our host’s site. Fall veggies were the norm in our boxes, but it still was considered the summer CSA.

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It was greens heavy, as usual for this time of year. This was also the second week we got celeriac aka celery root.

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This week it included the leaves. Looking them up online I see they are in fact edible. There was an interesting discussion at the pick up site about how we get our veggies. If it is in the box, it is edible. We get carrot tops, beet greens, kohlrabi leaves, all sorts of things not found in our local grocery stores.

What did I do with that celeriac? Sliced it and froze it. Same with the leaves. It will be used in stocks all winter.

As for the rest of the box, there was romaine, red cabbage, broccoli, spinach, bok choy and sweet peppers. There was also kale but since I grow it in my garden, I did a swap to get beautiful arugula. I had used the last of my home grown arugula in a pesto, so this fresh large stuff in being used with goat cheese for salads.

Next Thursday 28 of us will get our first fall CSA box. Then, the following week two more people join us. Fall CSAs aren’t as popular as summer. People seem to think all we get are potatoes and turnips.

Still, we are happy. We met the minimum to continue a Columbia pick up site. I look forward to celery and Jerusalem artichokes. To exotic pumpkins and maybe salsify.

Who knows what surprises will come every Thursday?

Maple Lawn Turkeys

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Now available for pick up at Whole Foods Columbia.

I have blogged many times about the locally raised turkeys that we order every year for Thanksgiving. From Maple Lawn Farm in Fulton MD.

Last night we had a tasting menu event at the new Whole Foods in Columbia. They announced that they have arranged to sell for in store pick up the same local turkeys we can get at the farm. This adds Whole Foods to the list that includes Boarmans and Roots in our local area.

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In fact, Whole Foods has all sorts of options from uncooked to oven ready to fully prepared feasts.

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Let’s just say we didn’t have to cook dinner last night.

I think my favorite of the evening though, was the dessert. I will probably be getting one of these to take to my family’s Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie on the bottom. Pumpkin mousse on top.

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From soup to nuts, and including some packages that are already cooked. For those who are pressed for time, or cooking area, or are wary of roasting a whole turkey themselves, Whole Foods joins other area restaurants and food stores in offering a complete meal, ready for reheating and serving.

This was our first time attending one of the Whole Foods tastings. I liked quite a few of the dishes, particularly the cream of mushroom soup, the cranberry orange relish, and of course, that pie.

For those living in the area, a new option to make Thanksgiving a little easier.

But, for those who know me, I will be cooking that Maple Lawn farm turkey with my favorite sausage dressing (thanks to Boarmans for their sausage). I will be using Whole Foods for their stuffing cubes, brining kit and nuts from their bulk selections.

Thanks to Mia, Katie and Chef Patrick for hosting the Howard County Food Bloggers yesterday.

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One Pot Wonders

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It’s that time of year. When thoughts turn to soups, stews and one pot comfort foods.

Fairly easy to accommodate with a little advance planning. How about revved up pork and beans.

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Or maybe chicken chili.

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And, from leftovers, a Sunday luncheon of stuffed peppers.

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All because of this in the pantry.

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A few cans of beans, all sorts of flavors, can make meal planning and execution easy.

The pork and beans. Compliments of those beans, the pork butt from Friends and Farms. All those green peppers which I steamed in the oven last Friday. A little onion, and a little of the butternut squash, also baked while the peppers were steaming.

The leftovers from that dish were spooned into a couple of nice looking peppers and heated up Sunday for a late luncheon.

As for that chicken chili, this was the inspiration.

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That pound of additive free ground chicken from our CSA delivery. Browned, than added some crushed tomatoes, some peppers and onions from the freezer, a can of beans, some spice (I used cumin, cinnamon, salt, guajillo chili powder, cilantro and garlic powder). Left to simmer for an hour on the stove.

With the CSA deliveries, the well stocked pantry and freezer, I can heat up meals by dumping ingredients and “kicking it up” with spice.

Perfect meals now that the weather is blustery.

Three Years Old

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My blogaversary is today. Three years ago, I started it to record my retirement journey. I took a few CSA pictures and started posting, inspired by a couple of local bloggers who recorded what they got from their Breezy Willow CSAs. I added my fall CSA bounty into that mix.

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Kitchen Scribble and Allura. Kat at Kitchen Scribble still blogs, but Allura is no longer active.

Between howchow, the biggest local food blog, and the hocoblogs pages, I pretty much learned what was interesting to others, to get them to read my blog, and to find topics to keep it going.

And, somewhere between the Old “Dark Days” challenge, where I began that locavore journey in earnest, and today, I turned my focus from unconscious consumer of whatever was on sale or looked good, to a proponent of small businesses/farms/local purveyors and much more. I honestly think I became that advocate because of the blogging. I didn’t start out to write a food blog. More like a “here is what interests me where I live” blog.

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What interests me the most these days is my community. Which includes most of Central Maryland. Still a pretty decent place to live. Even when the weather is awful. I haven’t tired of exploring it. Or of writing about it.

Stay tuned for a winter of exploration. Going to places brand new to us, rediscovering some old haunts that we haven’t visited in a long time. Winter isn’t a time for hibernation.

It’s also a time to really enjoy the outdoors. Want to join us for a hike this coming Saturday? A family hike out at the Mt. Pleasant site of the Howard County Conservancy. Groups of different ages, and paces, who will explore the grasslands and woodlands with volunteer naturalists leading the way. Free. 10am, November 8. The long term weather forecast looks good.

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The pot people are waiting to greet us.

Sunday Drives

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It’s the height of leaf peeping season here in Central Maryland. That cool couple of nights really made a difference in the depth of the colors. Sunday drives will be rewarded with stunning views like these.

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This was Larriland, but today I want to recommend heading farther afield. So to speak. Like to Sugarloaf Mountain, to visit the winery, maybe hike a few of the trails and check out the artisans in the Dickerson area.

Wineries have tremendous views in the fall, when the vines turn color to match the scenery.

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Some grape leaves on the vines turn red. Others yellow or orange.

If you want other close options that include time spent driving on back roads filled with color. Consider Black Ankle, just out Liberty Road. Or maybe Breaux just south of Harpers Ferry. Breaux now sits on a road with at least a half dozen other wineries. We haven’t tried any of them yet, except for Notaviva. We may have to plan a trip soon. Besides, Harpers Ferry alone is worth the drive.

If you want a new place to find pumpkins and apples, check out Baughers in Westminster.

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Besides the farm, just west of the city off of Rte. 140, the restaurant near McDaniels College has some of the best ice cream, and lots more at the farm stand.

This is also the last weekend for the Fall Festival at Gaver Farm, outside of Mt. Airy.

Any of these local farms have their final weekend events, too. Like Larriland for their straw maze for the little ones, Sharps, Mullinix, for those maze enthusiasts and apple/pumpkin pickers.

Who needs to drive all the way to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, when there are all sorts of events in Howard, Carroll and Frederick Counties.

Before autumn leaves us, it’s a great weekend to enjoy the local colors. All of them.

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