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Author Archives: AnnieRie

Forty

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Years ago today.

I met my husband. At a church brunch. He made quiche, believe it or not. He used to be the cook.

Remember when quiche was the latest thing?

Not that this is all about quiche. It was a choice. Go to a brunch with my roommate because she asked. Meet the owner of the townhouse when I spilled the rosé I was pouring into a glass. Clean up the floor.

Fast forward one year and four days. This was now my kitchen floor.

We met in August 1979 and married in August 1980.

Things have changed quite a bit in forty years. I obviously do most of the cooking. We have lived in three houses. Worked in many different places. Been retired for almost ten years.

The fifth was the day we met. The ninth is our anniversary. A pretty special week.

We lived in a Howard home starter townhouse in Owen Brown. Bought an out parcel townhouse in Scarborough. Harper’s Choice. Lived there twenty three years.

Moved to the rural west 14 years ago to follow our dreams. A garden. Radio towers. No covenants. Peace and quiet.

For better or worse. Sickness and health. Vows that mean something.

Still happy after all these years.

The Garden 2019

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What have I done this year? It’s been a challenge, that’s for sure.

With all the turmoil I did a minimum planting at the community garden. Tomatoes, Onions. Okra. Tromboncino.

The asparagus and rhubarb, my perennials, keep producing.

I did put in gladioli.

They went crazy. With a dozen of them flowering at once.

I also am finally getting tomatoes.

Mostly Early Girls. A few black cherries. I haven’t gotten any red figs or purple calabash heirlooms. There are green ones on the plants that survived.

I got three of the Italian zucchini, aka tromboncino. My two plants have more tiny veggies on them but not ready yet.

The okra is going nuts, as usual. I need to remember to get there often to pick them before they become too large and woody.

Okra fries from Deep Run Roots cookbook tame the “slimy” beast.

Gardening is my outlet. What’s yours?

Disaster Relief

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It’s been six weeks since the EF-1 tornado ripped through our property and took out 90% of our conifers and half our deciduous trees. Four full days of a seven man team with skid steers, chain saws, a 22 inch chipper, stump grinder and other noise making machines and we still aren’t done. One more day to go, but we have a break. We need to stabilize the soil and clean up the debris.

We found the barbed wire fencing from the 1890s farm. Our home sits on an old pasture, next to a century old farmhouse. Our neighbors live there. Our property was a pasture, horses in it for decades. The tree line is gone now and the posts and fencing were uncovered, under those annoying poison ivy vines that wound around the trees and bushes.

For a few days, the deer enjoyed the tasty leaves now in reach.

We just cope. Every day another task. Three cars into Chandler for auto body work. Next week Absolute Landscaping comes in to try and clean up clay, wood chips and the accumulated trash found under the tree line. Cutting Edge did all the tree work. They were awesome. We still have to replace the chimney cap, repair the roof, repair the deck, inspect the radio tower,and work toward the landscaping necessary to repair the groves lost.

Me, I turn to cooking comfort foods when I need to decompress. It is my favorite time for fresh vegetables. I did get some gardening done. I hope to get tomatoes soon. Meanwhile, I have made those things I love.

Loaded potato salad. With fresh green beans and baby red potatoes from our CSA. Fresh dill from my garden. Whole grain mustard.

One giant zucchini fritter. I was too lazy to make little ones. This was an adaptation of Smitten Kitchen’s fritter with sweet red pepper in it.

I also turned to Ottolenghi for a new recipe. Kale, asparagus, edamame.

With a killer topping. Pepitas and sunflower seeds baked with a maple syrup glaze.

This recipe came from Simple, the latest Ottolenghi cookbook. I have all of his books on my iPad and use them often. Cooking keeps me sane while working through the recovery from the tornado.

My husband? Is back on the radio once we got all the trees off his guy wires and the small tower up and running. That’s his outlet.

We will get back to normal someday. But right now, we just are lucky being retired, we can dedicate the time to “disaster relief”.

Weathering the Storms

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The Mother Nature kind, and the personal ones.

The personal storm is winding down. A health related issue, now manageable.

Then, out of nowhere, Mother Nature kicks us when we are recovering. Maryland is not known for tornados. Hurricanes, sometimes. The rare earthquake. A derecho. But now, tornados are coming on a regular basis.

On the 30th of May, we got ours. A direct hit. EF-1. 100 mph winds. No warning. The alarm on the phone occurred exactly when the power went out and things started swirling around our car. No time to react.

I should feel lucky. We were under it but it wasn’t on the ground. The chimney cap was ripped off. We lost one roof shingle. The satellite fin on my SUV was lifted and flung across the yard. Trees started breaking and falling in every direction.

We lost over 100 trees along our property lines. Small cherries and one massive pin oak. Almost every white pine.

My favorite weeping cherry took out a corner of our deck.

We just finished day three of tree removal. I am dealing with noise from chippers, stump grinders, chain saws and heavy equipment. Eight hours straight.

And welcome to the insurance world. Finding out that tree removal isn’t covered except in very specific circumstances. Juggling repairs on three vehicles. It’s a full time job, almost.

Well, at least Bambi is happy.

She doesn’t need to reach high to get those tender tasty tree leaves.

Lessons Learned? Check out your homeowner’s insurance to see what the difference in price is, between a dollar deductible and a percentage deductible. Consider cutting down diseased trees. Replace the developers’ trash trees with better ones. Avoid white pines, Bradford pears, and river birches. They are all weak trees.

We now have lost our screens. From neighbor’s sheds to highway noise to wind screens, we lost most of our privacy and sound barrier.

The good news? Less leaves to rake. Less pine needles. More sun to reestablish my garden.

We were also lucky with a less than 24 hour power outage. But we did miss this TV picture taken from a helicopter.

Ninety percent of the trees in this picture are gone. They were toppled.

Hopefully I can get the county to help us replace the canopy. They have a program to plant trees. We can certainly use them.

Mother Nature really is a five letter word beginning in B.

Omnivore It

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It’s been a while since I highlighted my farm share contents. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is the source of most of my produce year round. 48 out of 52 weeks we get some sort of vegetable share and a few add ons.

This winter I added an option that included one cheese, one pantry item and one package of meat every week. It is called the omnivore package. For those inclined, they also offered us a veganize option, which was bread, tofu and pantry item.

This was a recent weekly selection and I want to feature it because I am so impressed with the Soom product. Locally owned in Philly. Sisters. Our co-op contracts with them. Besides their regular tahini, this week we got the chocolate version. Which is destined for a cookie recipe I found.

Other local products have shown up as pantry items. Like this garlic pickle relish.

I have been using this everywhere. In egg salad. Making a shrimp scampi last night. Mixed with some chili sauce to cover polenta which I then baked in the oven. The Sweet Farm is located in Frederick MD.

But the biggest surprise had to be the whole turkey legs last week. I kept thinking when I saw the email announcing the three items for the week that they can’t mean multiple legs. I thought “whole” turkey legs, really? Not drumsticks?

Nope, they were whole turkey legs.

Two of them. Total of 6.85 pounds. These were broad breasted black turkeys. A hybrid breed that can reach 40 pounds in weight.

When I buy a fresh turkey from Maple Lawn Farms, I get a 12-14 pound bird. These legs were humongous. I kept them in the freezer because it looks like I will be grilling them. Together they would overflow my large roasting pan. I also think I may have to figure out how to separate them while frozen and only make one at a time. They are much too large to make soup.

Thankfully, we both favor dark meat in turkeys. But even one of these legs will feed us for days. At about 4-6 ounces a serving and discarding the bones, there are easily 6 servings here. Any and all suggestions for what to make with these behemoths are welcome.

All in all, I believe we are getting our money’s worth from the omnivore add on. We paid $26 a week for this share. The combined value of the products we received definitely exceeded the amount paid. We have gotten lamb, bison, turkey, chicken, pork and beef during the winter. We have gotten honey, tahini, sauerkraut, maple syrup, chocolate tahini, herbal teas, jam, dried mushrooms, AP flour, scone mix, pasta and that awesome garlic pickle relish. We get goat, sheep and cow milk cheeses – my favorites are the aged goat cheeses.

I am about to begin my 9th summer season with the co-op. Still happy with the quality and the quantity. They also still amaze me with the occasional completely new produce item, even after all these years.

Now, I just have to conquer those turkey legs.

 

 

Cravings

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It may be spring, literally, but for me it isn’t really here until the farmer’s markets and the Snowball Stand open, and until the fresh spring veggies arrive.

For example, the arrival of asparagus in my yard and in my garden. And on my plate.

Simple eggs and asparagus. A perfect brinner. Breakfast for dinner.

My other favorites? Ramps. A trip to Silver Spring market in April will get me a few bunches to satisfy that spring craving.

Another? Morel mushrooms. Usually found at Jenny’s Market, when she opens in May.

Then there’s garlic scapes. We grow garlic at the food bank garden and we bring home the scapes since they aren’t an item the food bank wants. They make great pesto, mixed with almonds and Parmesan cheese.

Saying farewell to root vegetables for a while and welcoming those vibrant greens. Herbs. Lettuces.

What goodies would this inspire? A few side salads.

That reminds me. Baby veggies. Micro greens. New potatoes. Scallions. All those things that we harvest while thinning the gardens.

Time to put away the stew pots and bring out the salad plates.

Springing Forward

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Not my favorite time of year. Adjusting to the time change.

I am working on so many projects and just can’t get motivated to get up when I should, as my brain keeps telling me it’s too early.

Are you like me? Wishing they would just pick a time, one or the other, and stop the switching back and forth. You know, standard time is only four months long, and the daylight saving time is now eight months of the year. Why is the standard only 33% of the year?

For us, we like to have dinner as the sun sets. We tend to be busy outdoors and come in for dinner when we have to stop working in the garden, or maintaining the property, or in my husband’s case, working on his antennas and towers.

Enough complaining. I have to admit that today has been beautiful. Temps in the mid 70s. No rain. It all missed us. I headed into Clarksville earlier to do a few errands and I could see that the businesses are taking advantage of the weather. The windows are open at Food Plenty. I bet there are a few people already out on the patios. Maybe I should fire up the grill. After I move it back where it belongs. The wind storm a couple weeks ago actually pushed it around a bit.

This may be just a short taste of the coming spring, but it is most welcome after a wet miserable winter.

I am thinking about that summer trip to Charlottesville and the view from Barboursville.

The octagonal ruins designed by Jefferson. Made me think of the tomato seedlings growing in my kitchen. All heirlooms from Monticello. Prudens purple, purple calabash and red fig. Hoping that this summer will be kind to my veggie garden, and not drown it like last summer.

What signs of spring make you happiest? Flowers. Gardens. Outdoor activities. Grilling. Dining al fresco. That’s my short list.