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Category Archives: Food

Bitter Sweet

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Bitter like the greens. Sweet as the beets.


It may be a slow improvement, but still. The change to my lifestyle and my eating habits since retiring has been paying off. My annual physical was yesterday. Saw much improvement by moving away from commercially prepared highly processed foods and by cooking from scratch as much as possible.

I considered naming this post “A1C is the new LDL” since decades of eating low fat, or no fat, and not cooking with basic ingredients has impacted our health. Face it, we had significantly more sugar in our diets while we worked and commuted. Too many frozen dinners, carry out meals and high carb restaurant choices like pasta, or pizza.

Now, my generation fights the battle against Type 2 Diabetes. All those low fat meals contained hidden sugars.

I am glad I made the switch. Even though it is time consuming to cook this way. I also know that my CSA is the real reason I don’t give up.

That salad up there. I made the dressing. The greens and beets and berries are from my CSA. So is the cheese.


The creamy dressing. Yogurt without added sugar. A very tiny bit of preserves. White balsamic and good olive oil. A pinch of salt and pepper.

It’s not the only thing we have added to our vegetable share. We get cheese, fruit, meat, yogurt, and bread. I have added a grain and flour share for fall.

This is the bread we now eat.


A different one each week. No dairy. No sugar. The miche is awesome with soups and stews. Comes with our CSA delivery. Made in a bakery in Brooklyn NY. This one and the polenta are my favorites.


Today I threw a whole bunch of things in the crockpot. Minimizing sodium, sugar and preservatives. Yeah, I didn’t skip the fat. Mostly the healthy fats, like olive oil. A layer of greens. A layer of beans. Some lovely beef short ribs from Boarman’s.

I admit it. If I didn’t have a year round CSA delivery, I probably wouldn’t have stuck to the “real food” diet. I would have been lazier and bought some ready made items. Having those vegetables hanging out in the fridge and on the counter reminds me daily that I need to continue this path. I don’t want my golden years to be consumed by health issues. I don’t want to take all sorts of prescriptions to combat something that I can prevent with a little effort.

Here’s to my feeling good about the progress. Here’s to getting better, while not feeling old. Here’s to that heart healthy red wine. Can’t forget that.


The Local Restaurant Scene

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Things have been pretty crazy around here, and I haven’t blogged much the past few weeks. Finally, the contractors are about done and I can take back my basement rec room, without smelling paint fumes from the door painting, or shivering because the door is open for hours a day.

I need a new restaurant fix. I keep hoping the two newest ones in our area would open soon, but until then, I can at least try out the Turn House, with my friends the HoCoBloggers. Another blog party on the 2nd of November, to showcase the talent of Thomas Zippelli. Local farms will be providing quite a bit of the protein and veggies on the menu. This restaurant used to be the Coho Grill, in Hobbits Glen. One of our old “watering holes”, back before we moved out to west county.

Out here, changes have been seen also. The Town Grill in Lisbon is moving to West Friendship (if they ever get there). Every month we hear a new date for opening. When the Citgo was sold, we thought it would be fairly quick for them to be relocated. They are going into the old Foster’s General Store site, next to the Pink Cabbage antique store. Frederick Rd and Triadelphia. I absolutely love their smoked salmon BLT and their breakfast offerings are awesome. Hopefully, they will continue to offer ribs every Saturday. I like the fact that they are on my route to and from the Conservancy, where I have my community garden plot, and where I volunteer.


As for the other close by new offering, I have no other information except for a paper sign on the window at the old Bistro Blanc location in Glenelg. The new place will be called Dandelion Bistro and Bakery. Supposedly, opening mid October (which is right now, but it’s not open yet). No web site, or page, to let us know what is coming. I am just glad the bad rumors of a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins aren’t true. We welcome small family businesses, but aren’t keen about chains. They also seem to be adding a heated area to their patio, one of the features of the site.


Out west farther from us, another new place. Bolder, in Mt. Airy. The Howard County part of Mt. Airy, on Frederick Rd near Watersville. It used to be Drover’s Inn. Opened October 11th. Small plates, and more.

I obviously need to get out more.


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An overload of greens, and then some. The return of root vegetable season, and the return of really healthy greens with my weekly CSA basket.


This week’s medium share had some real weight to it. The turnips, beets and radishes all came with a massive amount of greens attached. Add to that a couple of squash. It is time to dust off the recipes that use greens and squash to make a harvest meal. The easy thing about greens. They can be used in a sauté recipe, puréed, or just torn up, blanched and added to other recipes.

You can also make fancy pesto with them. Like this one. Used in my green tomato pasta. I made a close cousin to that recipe just the other day. This next batch? Will be using radish greens, basil, beet greens and scallions.


Purple beets obviously have purple “greens”. The color of this pesto should be interesting.

Add to all the goodness from the CSA basket, I found a stray gongura plant in my garden. I think the seeds washed over into my tomatoes from a neighboring plot.


Sometimes called red sorrel leaves, it has quite a reputation as a staple in many Indian diets, and is not that inexpensive to buy. There are at least 10 plots in our community gardens that have this plant flourishing.

Finally, in the greens world around here, there are the last of the green tomatoes. I harvested three pounds today, to finish off my season. A few will be bagged and left to ripen. The rest are destined to be chopped. Some for a green tomato pasta, and the rest for green tomato jam. My friend, Kirsten over at Farm Fresh Feasts turned me on to this jam. You have to take the time and make it. Slather it on a burger.

Just think. The markets are still open around here. It is also easy to head out to Larriland and pick green tomatoes. And beets. Pestos. Jams. Spreads. Soups. The possibilities are endless for what you can do with all things “green”.


Buy your root vegetables from the local farmers and make sure you use up those greens. Don’t let them go to waste.

Soup Season

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Somewhere in the last week the weather changed. It got cooler and breezy and it rained quite a bit. Just the type of weather to make me pull out the crock pot and make soup.


This week it was split pea soup with ham. Ham from last winter’s CSA meat share, and a bag of split peas. I tend to buy the meat share from our CSA in fall and winter. The fall share is just eight weeks long and the winter share is 13. Not as big a commitment as a 26 week summer share, so you get to kick the tires, so to speak.

I made this simple soup with leftover uncured bone in ham. From a March delivery. I have been working at drawing down that freezer. Dump a bag of split peas in the crock pot. Add a pint of chicken stock and a pint of water. Add an onion, diced. Shred the ham and add it. Add the bones, too, if you have a bone in ham. Salt, not much, and pepper. That’s it. Eight hours in the crock pot. Two dinners for us.

Served with the last of my ripe tomatoes.


Some goat cheese. Asiago pepper dressing. Spring onions. Salt and pepper.

The other star of dinner. The bread.


Again, compliments of the CSA. We get an amazing variety of vegan whole grain breads. They last a very long time, and have that denseness and chewiness that a good bread should have.

Finally, the wines.


We did a Sauvignon Blanc throwdown, between Linden and Glen Manor. Linden makes theirs in the style of a French Fumé. Glen Manor, reminds me of a New Zealand pineapple-y SB. It was fun to compare against the richness of the soup.

Now, on to more experimentation with soups. Next up, pumpkin soup.


The Triamble (also called shamrock) pumpkin that we got today in our box is supposed to be amazingly tasty, and I have a few soup recipes that I want to attempt with it. I will be roasting pumpkin this weekend, for sure.

Home Grown

Tomatoes. The reason I garden.


This year I concentrated on heirlooms. Which didn’t do very well, but I did make it to the century mark. 100 pounds of tomatoes by last Tuesday. With a few pounds of green tomatoes still hanging out there. Third year in a row to pass the century mark.

I dedicated about 100 square feet to tomatoes. ROI, a pound a square foot.

This year I did eliminate roma/paste tomatoes from my plantings. Deciding to rely on Larriland Farms, pick your own, to supply me with tomatoes for freezing. Last Saturday, me and hundreds of other people descended on the farm. Most of them looking for apples and pumpkins. Me, looking for tomatoes.

If you could make it through the parking lot to the area for picking tomatoes, you didn’t encounter any crowds. Down beyond the beets and the broccoli, the last tomato fields are open. Just a few weeks left to pick. Prices are amazing. $1.49 a pound for less than 20 pounds picked. Price drops to 75 cents a pound for more than 20 pounds. I picked 26 pounds.


Almost 24 pounds of paste tomatoes and almost 3 pounds of Campari. It was sauce making and oven roasting time, for three days total, at my house this week. The freezer is getting full. Winter will have tomatoes on the menu.

The Campari.


They suffered a bit from the strange weather. Lots of cracked tomatoes. Just like what I encountered in my heirlooms in my garden.


Many of the Campari were destined for the roasting tray. This batch was tomatoes, a red pepper, scallions, olive oil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Slow roast at 250 degrees. I ended up with a total of four trays of roasted tomatoes. One with the Campari and three with the paste tomatoes. When I use the paste tomatoes, I slice them in half or in thirds, depending on their size.

As for the bulk of the paste tomatoes. Three different batches of sauce. Each yielded 2 quarts.


I blanch them first. Remove skins and seeds after they have cooled. In the meantime, I prepare the base.


Onions and carrots first. Sometimes I add green pepper. Always I add minced garlic right before I start putting tomatoes in the pot.


A tray from the oven, and a finished sauce. My sauce is simple. Just add a pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper and oregano. I like it chunky. Like this.


The pasta. From Boarman’s. Called Al Dente. It’s an egg enriched pappardelle. It’s hanging by the butcher case. The sausages. One was hot Italian, the other sweet Italian. I ask the guys at Boarman’s to give me one of each and use them for my Italian meals. Mixing them.

As for that days work.


Ready to transfer to the basement freezer. Yep, it took three days total to process the $20 worth of tomatoes I picked. Yield. Four jars of roasted tomatoes. Six quarts of sauce. One was eaten. Five in the freezer. Not a bad value.

Rainy Days

Finally, we get a good soaking rain. Good enough to give the sod a fighting chance to survive.


Although it also kept the carpenters from working on the deck.


I will be happy when they get done with the work and we can finish seeding the sodding the yard. The mud runs are getting a wee bit eroded.

The good news also, the tomatoes in my garden got much needed relief from the heat and drought conditions.


I am running low on ripe tomatoes, and there are many green ones on the plants up at my garden.

Today though was cooler, dreary, just the type of weather that screams “SOUP!” and has me reaching for the pans and the crock pot.


I dug into the freezer and took out a package of my Maple Lawn turkey drumsticks. The last ones from my visit at Thanksgiving. I freeze them with two to a pack. Just the right amount to make turkey stock, and crock pot soup.

Don’t make the mistake that I made and put frozen turkey into the crockpot. It could crack your ceramic from the thermal shock. I started my stock this morning on the stove.


The turkey will defrost, and you should take it out and let it cool down enough to shred. What you see above is the bones, skin and tough pieces, used to make a hearty stock. Those shredded pieces?


Went here. In the crock pot. This is a two step process, but yields at least four meals.

In that stove top pot, I placed the legs with carrots, onions and celery. Tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. I forgot that I didn’t have carrots in the freezer, so Jenny’s came to the rescue here. I will miss the market when it closes in five weeks.


When she opened this morning, I bought enough carrots to use today and to cut, blanch and freeze some for when I need them in the winter. The freezer is getting back to being ready for the end of the markets.

In the crock pot, I put water, the better parts of the carrots, celery and onion (I use the ugly stuff in the stock, and then discard them). After I got the turkey ready, I shredded it to remove all those pesky little bones that turkey drumsticks have. Seasoned and left to slow cook all day. I just added the egg noodles at 4 pm, so they will be perfect when we are ready for dinner at 6.

A nice bowl of soup. Some of our awesome CSA bread.


Last Tuesday we got a loaf of miche.


One of my favorites from She Wolf Bakery. I definitely will be getting bread in my fall CSA share, as I love the vegan breads we get. They stay fresh all week. No mold. Don’t get hard and stale. Bread and butter, with soup. A perfect meal to herald the change of seasons.


The flowers? Just a bit of sunshine on a rainy day.

Pepper’d and Squash’d

My Community Supported Agriculture basket is overflowing with peppers this week.


Including ghost peppers. Which I have no idea what I am going to make with them. We also got a healthy dose of squash.


Acorn and patty pan this week. Last week?


Zucchini and delicata.

It may say “autumn” in the next week around here, but the vegetables are still screaming summer.


Because there’s six ears of sweet corn in this week’s basket, too.

A little side dish, celebrating the seasons.


I took the zucchini. Sliced it. Covered it with items from the olive bar at Wegmans. Drizzled in olive oil. A very tasty side served with Boarman’s steak.

And, now, because my programs have failed me twice while writing this post, I think I will run off quickly before it dies again. Here’s to Indian Summer, enjoyable while it lasts.