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Category Archives: GGSAC

Catfish, Before and After

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Who out there deliberately buys catfish at the grocery store? We never did. Only since we get food from Friends and Farms have we been lucky enough to expand our tastes, and try new things for dinner.

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It doesn’t get much fresher. And, not that hard to make. Dinner tonight featured the catfish. It dominated the plate, but we didn’t want to waste that fresh clean fish by freezing it and cooking later. Picked up at 3 pm.

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Ready to bake not that long after. A simple yet really flavorful preparation. A little olive oil in the pan. White wine. Lay the fish on top and sprinkle liberally with bread crumbs. Some paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. A final drizzle of Secolari’s lemon olive oil. Baked for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Served with some of the best tasting fingerling potatoes from today’s Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA delivery. Salad on the side. Two pans. Less than 1/2 hour to make.

The biggest reason I love having these two food sources. Keeping my sense of discovery alive. I never would have bought catfish. I never would have tried some of our weirdest vegetables.

I never would have become a soup maker. My other big thing today. Making a pot of mushroom soup. Which will be blended tonight, and served for dinner tomorrow.

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Cremini mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms. Portabella mushrooms. Saved for a week to make the soup. Mushrooms are in season. And, so flavorful.

As for the rest of the two baskets.

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My omnivore basket from Lancaster Farm Fresh. New to me this week. Sunflower butter.

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My Friends and Farms small basket. Notice those parsnips. Yep, both baskets had parsnips. Another vegetable I never bought in a store. But, one which I really love.

Take a chance. Join a CSA or a food buying service. Expand your culinary capabilities. Eat better. Eat seasonally. Eat locally.

My Out of Control Kitchen

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It happens every August. The tomatoes get way ahead of me. I can’t keep up with the processing. I have to dedicate an entire weekend to plowing through the produce and filling the freezer.

Add to it the CSA glut.

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For $19 a week you too can be overrun with fresh beautiful vegetables. OK, so there are also some fruit shares here. They are a slight additional cost.

Lancaster Farm Fresh delivered some pretty heavy boxes this week. We got:

FIVE zucchini (seriously? in a half share?)
A bag full of baby sweet peppers
A bag full of hot Hungarian wax peppers (not pictured, more below)
A bag full of baby eggplants
Two heirloom tomatoes
Three slicing tomatoes
Four golden beets with greens
Two heads of garlic

The sugar baby watermelon was part of our fruit share. Along with more of these.

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Eight more incredibly juicy luscious sweet peaches.

I swapped those peppers. For a reason to be revealed later.

I did get this.

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Three ears of sweet corn from the swap box. You can never have too much sweet corn.

My chicken share this week was a 3.5 pound heritage bird.

As for Friends and Farms, I am glad we moved to an individual share for the summer. That way we aren’t completely overwhelmed with produce.

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This was bread and cheese week for the individual share. I picked pumpkin pecan bread from the Breadery. Ewe cream cheese from Shepherds Manor.

Spring Mix. Donut peaches. Nectarines. Sweet potatoes. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. A yellow onion. Green beans. An eggplant.

As for the protein, not pictured, we got catfish, and sirloin steak.

Definitely enough to keep us from the grocery stores for a while.

I just need to get out there and start freezing food.

The Runaround

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It’s what I am currently doing to fill in those voids in my pantry and fridge.

Wegmans has a few things I like, and can’t get elsewhere. So does Roots. And, Harris Teeter.

But, they are no longer the primary source of the foods we eat.

The CSAs and the Friends and Farms basket now comprise the bulk of my food sources.

Plus, what is in the freezer, from my garden and from places like Larriland.

Roots is my source for cereal, bulk foods and specialty items like coconut oils.


Thankfully, Clarksville isn’t that far away.

As for Wegmans, they are the only source for two standard items in our kitchen.


Shelf stable non dairy creamer, unflavored, for me.

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A really good choice for K cup coffee, this San Francisco Bay one.

We are still getting the coupon books, even though Wegmans has decided I don’t come there often enough to send me the Menu magazine. I asked. They said, I don’t do enough business with them.

Interesting reply.

Harris Teeter. The grocery store we use for other shopping. Mainly on Thursdays, since they give seniors like us a 5% discount on Thursdays.

So, tomorrow, while getting my Friends and Farms pick up, I will hit Wegmans to use the coupon for coffee, which we need.

I have to admit. It is not what I thought I would be doing, four years ago, when I retired. Interesting that the changes I made to focus on local buying, and small business emphasis, have shaped where I go and what I purchase.


Processed Foods

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Since I stopped buying many processed foods and started cooking from scratch I now spend more time thinking ahead about what to make every week.

Meal planning and prepping foods, like the navy beans we got in this week’s basket from Friends and Farms.

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Taking the time to soak and cook the beans in advance means I will be able to make bean soup in the crockpot this weekend.

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The basket this week included quite a mix of items. Looks like some good St. Patrick’s Day meal options in there.

We got chicken breasts, pork sausage and pork hocks. I also caught the note on Facebook that they had a limited amount of lamb cubes available for purchase.

We got red cabbage and potatoes. Onions too. Green peppers. Tomato puree. Lettuce and grape tomatoes for a salad. Apples to use with that red cabbage.

This was a yogurt week. And eggs. And a baguette.

Almost no need to go to a grocery store anymore. Just a few staples needed to make meals.

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If there is one place that I am enjoying this experience, it is in the quality of the food, particularly the meats.

Just the right size for two people. Really fresh.

I am making a lamb stew next week. Navy bean soup tomorrow. A frittata with the eggs and sausage and potatoes. Red cabbage with apples.

In our world these days, the only thing I seem to ever buy in the frozen food aisle at Harris Teeter is the gelato.

I like the way I have changed how I cook. Thanks to the seasonal, regional goodies, and my freezer.


The End of the Road

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Week 12 Breezy Willow Early Bird CSA. I will miss my Wednesday trips to the farm. This CSA is such a great value, and you get so much for your money. For us maybe, sometimes too much, but still it is one awesome CSA.


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The biggest celery cabbage I have seen (and I took the smallest one there)
One humongous green romaine lettuce
Two pounds zucchini
Two sweet onions
One eggplant
One bunch asparagus
One bunch chard
One pound spinach (I picked the smallest ones to make salad)

Plus, either eggs or yogurt. I love Breezy Willow eggs and since this was the last week, I chose eggs.

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And, the bread. Honey Whole Wheat. There will be egg salad made. And, deviled eggs to take to a picnic. Pure heaven is homemade egg salad with a great loaf of bread.

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There is ratatouille in my future. I have some tomatoes in the freezer. We got onions, eggplant and zucchini. Sounds like the perfect fit.

Of course, for us, summer means farmers markets. And Glenwood is where I will continue to get Breezy Willow eggs and Great Harvest bread. Along with my TLV meats and Stone House baked goods.

Who needs grocery stores? Not us, well, except for staples like vinegar, sugar, beans and those other things we can’t find at markets.


Abbondanza – Spring Veggies Abound

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CSA Week Eleven from Breezy Willow, a visit to Miller Library market and strawberries from Gorman. Who needs grocery stores in spring and summer around here?

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We got:
Tuscan kale
Three beets (one is hidden)
Romaine (weighs two pounds)
Three pounds sweet potatoes
Half pound shiitake mushrooms
One pound green beans
One pound Brussels sprouts
One pound bean sprouts ( not there, I swapped)

My swap got me three more of those lovely grapefruit. Bread the Great Harvest White. This has become our favorite toast for breakfast. Reminds my husband of English muffins when toasted.

And, last but not least, those lovely eggs. This was the last delivery of eggs for early bird CSA.

I also picked up peach yogurt, Great Harvest croutons for salads and some chicken legs.

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Before hitting the CSA I stopped at Miller Library market to get a few things. Like curry to use with the chicken.

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Fresh veggies from Love Dove to pair with the strawberries. French breakfast radishes and arugula. I know, I know, there are holes in the leaves. I like seeing holes in the leaves. It means no bug died from chomping on pesticide infested veggies. If you want fresh veggies that haven’t been treated, look for holes or bugs (like corn with little happy worms).

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Organic practices. Many of our local farms follow organic practices and give you fresher than grocery store items that aren’t treated or sprayed. For less money most of the time, too.

Got my feta for the salad from Bowling Green. Was looking for short ribs from TLV but will have to wait until Glenwood on Saturday.

Between the farm stands, markets and CSAs in Howard County, you can eat quite well using grocery stores for just a few staples.

Today while out, I did a loop. I had errands in Columbia so I hit Wegmans for coffee, lemons and limes, paper goods, and shrimp. Stopped at Gorman to check out the farm and get some berries. Headed up 29 and hit Miller library before continuing out to Breezy Willow. I have all I need for the vast majority of our meals, using locally sourced items.

Salads. Meats. Stir Fry. Side dishes. Dairy (now that Misty Meadows is at the county markets). Cheese. All readily available and really fresh.

Now, what am I going to make with these lovely shiitakes?

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Lovin’ Mondays

Back before we retired, Mondays were definitely not our favorite day of the week. Back to work. Back to the commute. The early mornings. No matter the weather. We had to get up early and return to DC or northern VA on the bus or the van.

Today was just another reminder of how we love being retired. Errands. Can be done on Mondays. No weekend rush. No Saturday lines. Need to go to Lowe’s to find extra long heavy duty cable ties. Well, let’s combine that errand with a leisurely private lunch while picking up our cellar club wines at Breaux.

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An empty parking lot. The tasting room all to ourselves. Soup from a Thermos. A baguette and some peppered goat cheese. Four bottles of our cellar selections.

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We picked up a few extra bottles, one of the Malbec and one newly released Cabernet Franc Reserve. Then, off to Frederick to stop at Lowe’s and, across Buckeystown Pike, my favorite coop, The Common Market. If you live in west county, a combined trip to the Frederick Costco and The Common Market can be done with less time getting there, than going to the east side of Columbia. A few extra miles, but less time in traffic.

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The Common Market has better prices than MOM’s, and about the same as Roots, but their bulk food aisle is amazing. Three times the size of Roots. I picked up couscous, mixed nuts, cranberries and some artichoke pasta from the bulk aisle.

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Plus, Monocacy Ash from Cherry Glen. A treat for our upcoming Valentine’s Day dinner. I will pair this cheese with whole strawberries from our freezer, which were picked at Larriland last spring.

Another special touch from the olive bar. To serve with the lamb on Thursday. Mixed marinated veggies, gigante beans and chickpeas.

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I was supposed to be picking up items to make a local/organic lasagna with my meat sauce I slow cooked yesterday. As usual, too many other tempting goodies there. Then, home tonight to pop chicken pot pies from them into the oven, and watch one of the better sunsets of late. Looks like tomorrow will be warm and clear. Can’t beat this weather.

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Breakfast for dinner. One of the simple pleasures. Lots of things left from the fridge and a couple of eggs. Everything locally procured, except for the bread which came from High’s. But, it was Hauswald’s, a Maryland bakery. You know, that weird white bread is just different after eating freshly made good bread from places like Atwater’s. But, when the roads are all messed up and High’s is open, you make do.

The A/C is fixed. Just a capacitor, a victim of the power surge. It is now cooling down again, but dinner was quick, easy to make and didn’t heat up the kitchen too much.

More tomorrow about our clean up and some thoughts about being in West HoCo after such a huge storm.


How Did I Do on Avoiding Grocery Stores in May?

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A while back I made a resolution to avoid shopping at chain grocery stores unless I absolutely had to get something not easily found elsewhere. I also promised my hubby to clean out the pantry and freezer, and maybe he would get me a chest freezer for my summer produce and fruit.

We found the freezer at Costco and picked it up yesterday. He kept his part of this bargain and I did pretty well on my part. This March picture of the freezer shows lots of CSA and market meats that needed to be used.

I have been plowing through them and not shopping until I made a dent in it. This crock pot Tuscan style soup, made with beans, greens, new potatoes, tomatoes included chicken stock plus a smoked ham hock from the freezer.

I grilled CSA Italian sausages more than once this spring, so they are gone now.

I only set foot in Giant once, and Weis once this month. Grand total there was less than $100 together. Mostly staples and things like Mother’s Day card and Graduation cards. No produce. No meats. No seafood. I got all those things from Boarman’s, Roots, CSA, farmer’s markets, or Costco.

I also am down to only three organic pizzas in the freezer, left over from buying some packaged items at Roots before my February surgery. Turns out we didn’t need to use them.

I have to say I did a good job of ridding my freezer of processed foods. Now, to reap the benefits of my garden, the CSA, and U pick projects at Larriland by filling the freezer with summer bounty to enjoy next winter. My new chest freezer will be dedicated to fruit and veggies, and maybe part of whatever we get at the County Fair. I am thinking of getting lamb at auction this year.

I am using that last package of ground lamb from the winter farmer’s market to make kofta kebabs this weekend. My first attempt at making these. Should be interesting.

Cooking from scratch. It is far more satisfying to me to do this.

Taking this:

To this:


Summer CSA Week Three

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I needed a wide angle lens and I had to stand on a stool to get it all in the picture. This week, the box was chock full of goodies.

Twelve items. Yep, we got to the pick up site and found the boxes full of veggies. The list from the site:

A peek down into a loaded box:

I swapped the kale for a second package of garlic scapes. I want to make another batch of pesto to put in ice cube trays and save for winter cooking. Easy, and so good to use in the dead of winter.

My cost analysis this week yielded even bigger savings than the previous weeks.

Lettuce mix – 18 oz. would cost $10 at Roots. Scallions $1.69. Garlic scapes $2 a bunch X 2 = $4. Bok Choy $3.69. Spinach $3. Collards $3. Radishes $2. Turnips $2.50. Kohlrabi $3. Rainbow Chard $3. Broccoli $2.50. Total for equivalent of organic and farm raised veggies is $38.40. I pay $29.75 a week for the CSA. Again, this week’s organic haul is a bargain. Total savings for the three weeks is $21.15. In good years like this one so far, CSAs are a real bargain, but the risk of a bad year is always out there.

Did I use everything last week? All but the kale, which I swear will become kale chips Sunday or Monday. A couple of red scallions, and half a head of romaine. Everything else got used. So, I did OK in the consumption department. I will leave this post with a pic of one of the mostly local dinners I made using CSA and market foods, and a local wine.

The wild ahi wasn’t local, nor was the Pacific Red Pepper Tomato Soup that made the sauce. The ahi was braised in sauce with red scallions from the CSA, and olive oil. The bread is Atwater’s rosemary Italian. The potatoes came from the Olney market. The garlic scape pesto I made using local scapes, not local pine nuts and parmesan and olive oil. The wine, a lovely Vin Rouge from Glen Manor in VA was the perfect weight to complement the big flavors in the pesto and in the red pepper tomato sauced ahi. 2010 was a hot dry year. This wine was 14.9% alcohol but didn’t feel like it. Good balance of flavors. I saw an email from Jeff White, the owner and winemaker, that came today saying this Vin Rouge is running low. If you want a lovely wine in a Bordeaux style produced here on the East Coast, this is a good one.

I will be using more of the garlic scape pesto tonight making Israeli couscous with pesto, and a side of fresh English peas, asparagus and mint. Dessert will be fresh strawberries with buttermilk cake from the market, and vanilla ice cream, not local unfortunately since South Mountain is missing from the market.

This entire month I went to a chain grocery store once, and spent less than $50 getting staples. You can eat well in season using local markets and your CSA. I really love this time of year. The start of the fresh food season. Now, what to do with kohlrabi?