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Category Archives: Remember When

Memorial Day

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We were somewhat busy today but I still took some time to remember what this “holiday” really means. Besides the start of summer, the pools opening, those retail sales, and BBQ parties at the beach or wherever.

We tend to stay home this weekend. Always have. We know we are lucky our dads came home after WWII. They both served in the South Pacific 70 years ago.

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Came home, met our mothers. Got married. My husband and I were both first born children. Early baby boomers. We lived through the Cold War. Hid under our desks during air raid practices. Watched the protests during the Vietnam War. Lost many class mates to that war.

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My retirement flag. Sits there to remind me how fortunate we are. To live in freedom. That others fought and died to achieve, and maintain.

Thanks to all who gave their lives so we could live in freedom.

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.

CSA’d Out

I can understand it. Our first year we were overwhelmed at the end of the CSA season. But, we hung in there and learned from it, and drastically changed how we approached the weekly deluge of veggies.

I say this because at our first pick up last Thursday for our fall CSA, we heard that about 5 of our summer CSA members never picked up their last week of veggies, or fruit, or meat, or eggs. The food bank did well, as did our site host’s friends, who benefited from things the food bank doesn’t want. Like all that chicken and meat.

We are down to 30 members, from close to 50 in the summer. Enough to keep us going. Those fortunate enough to join us got new and exciting things, like these.

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Watermelon radishes. I roasted mine.

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Salanova lettuce. A red multileaf variety. So sweet. So flavorful. Devoured in a lunch mix with some poached chicken breast on top.

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Baby Hakurei turnips. Thanks to Elizabeth at Three Beans on a String these will be honey glazed with Larriland apples and served for dinner in a few days.

The whole haul.

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Napa cabbage. Will be a slaw soon, with apples. The beets. Already roasted and eaten. The potatoes. Made their way into a potato leek soup today, thanks to Friends and Farms having extra leeks for me to pick up this morning. Sweet peppers. Sliced in salad. Put into a frittata for tonight’s dinner. A couple of them are left.

As for that glorious cheese share.

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Biweekly in the fall. That stinky funky six year aged cheddar. The “Lanchego”, which is simply awesome. A Colby. New to us, from this supplier. Creamy and delicate.

I can honestly say I am not CSA’d out. I am really enjoying the variety, and of course, the freshness. You don’t have to rush and eat it all in one week. With food this fresh, in two weeks, I swear it is still better than grocery store produce.

Tomorrow is my husband’s 64th birthday. Stand by to see what I put together to celebrate. Will I still need him? Will I still feed him?

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.

Resolutions

I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions last year. I decided to challenge myself in my 60th year to do sixty things.

It was interesting. Fun. Not totally successful. But fun. I may try something similar this year.

Like finish the list in the areas I didn’t do very well in accomplishing.

My list —
Visit six festivals and/or fairs that are new to me
Taste at six new wineries never visited before
Seek out six new farmstands or markets to expand my locavore network
Do something different or visit someplace new in six states other than MD
Eat at six small business restaurants and/or diners
Eat/drink or experience six childhood memories
Log six new birds not seen before
Cook and eat six new proteins, i.e., meat, seafood, beans or nuts
Grow and/or eat six exotic fruits, veggies or herbs
Tackle six rightsizing projects

I am proud of myself in really taking on those rightsizing projects and pushing myself to get rid of things.

I hit more than enough wineries. Getting out of the rut of going to the same places. Discovering new and not so new places in MD and VA.

Farmstands and markets were successful too. Fruits, veggies and herbs, yep, did those too.

Where did I fail? Not getting out of MD, VA and PA. I really have become a stick in the mud when it comes to traveling. We did the trip to Roanoke and a few trips to PA. Found a few new towns in MD.

Never made it to DE or WV or NJ or NY, like we planned.

I was lucky in getting three new birds. Not by traveling, though. What were they? The guinea hens, the screech owl and the great horned owl. Thankfully, the program on creatures got me two close encounters with delightful creatures.

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Cooked with some new grains like wheatberries.

Hit more than enough childhood memories, too.

I should take inventory of how much I did. And, decide what to do next year. I am a firm believer in challenging myself, so as not to get stodgy and set in my ways in retirement.

After all,

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cooking with chayote was a highlight of my adventures into new foods.

As for wine, we can add Big Cork, Old Westminster, Early Mountain, Doukenie, Port of Leonardtown, St. Michael’s, Villa Appalaccia, Ankida Ridge and Valhalla to the list of new wines and wineries discovered this year. Not bad.

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Here’s to a great year. And many more adventures.

Cookie Monster

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It’s December, and my focus turns to cookies. Christmas cookies. One of the first planning items, right before doing the Christmas cards, and getting the live greens for decoration.

Mickey Gomez, a fellow hoco blogger, had me looking for potential candidates for sugar cookies.

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On her Facebook page, baking with her grandmother. Prompted a search for old Rumford recipes.

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My mom’s cookies. Something I can’t seem to duplicate, so I may be messing around for the next few days, trying recipes.

I need a few dozen to take to the Conservancy crafts fair Saturday. Might be time to try some experiments in baking.

I have decided to use those lovely molasses cookies from my post last week, as my new cookie in the box.

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The ones from Bon Appetit, post was here.

I got a good supply of Trickling Springs butter, and lots of chocolate, sugar and flour. Time to get baking.

After all, it is December!

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The Family Reunion

My father came from a large family. On his mother’s side there were seven children, she was the oldest.

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My dad was the oldest of 16 cousins in his generation, children of the seven brothers and sisters.

On his dad’s side, it was more complicated and not as close knit. But, his mother’s family held annual reunions on Father’s Day. Below was one of the reunion shots from about 50 years ago.

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Most of the young men in that picture were my dad’s cousins. His great grandfather was married, had three children, was widowed, married again quite a few years later, and had four more children. It ended up that my dad has an aunt who is younger than him.

In other words, as a child at those reunions, I was really confused. My dad had cousins close to my age.

This weekend, my dad’s youngest brother contacted and organized a reunion of almost all the living cousins. We were missing just a few of them.

Today at the reunion it hit me. I am the oldest of the third generation. We have one family member left of the first. My great aunt, the one younger than my dad. She was there. More than half of his cousins made it, many from Florida where they retired. Quite a few do still live in the area, but most have moved south.

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One of my favorites of the pictures I did take. The after shot of the cousins, after they all posed nicely to be photographed.

As for my generation, there were a half dozen of us who still live around here and came to my cousin’s house here in the county. I am lucky to have close relatives in the area, with a number of us living within 30-45 minutes of each other. Four of the five first cousins, the children of my dad and his brothers. The picture here was me with my uncles including the one who organized our reunion.

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Today, since everyone loved to take pictures, there were lots of “formal” group shots taken by a neighbor. They will get emailed or sent by snail mail to the generation not plugged into the internet (like my mom).

It was great to see everyone. Our last big family get together was my dad’s funeral ten years ago. The after service get together then was my cousin’s house, so it was good to get there under happier circumstances.

We hope to have these get togethers more often now that quite a few of us have retired. We don’t want to only see each other once every 8-10 years.

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And, in keeping with the spirit of our heritage, we did have crabs and beer. A fuzzy shot taken with the tiny camera. I didn’t do much picture taking. I was too busy catching up with those who watched me grow up.

Childhood Memories

Including one grown up version. The rest of today’s dinner, a trip back to PA for my husband.

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Watermelon margaritas. Made with leftover watermelon, lime juice and a few other things. I remember having watermelon lemonade as a child. The bottom part of the watermelon scraped out, with all the juice. Lemonade mixed with it.

This version is the adult version. I used about 12 ounces of watermelon with the leftover juice. The dregs of the two week old melon. Added the four ounce container of peach puree that didn’t fit in the peach pop molds. Added two shots of tequila. One shot of Cointreau. Squeezed the juice of two limes into it. Added about eight cubes of ice. All blended together.

Happiness on the patio, before dinner.

Dinner. Kielbasa grillers. Baked, since storm predictions made me hesitant to fire up the grill and have to deal with possible lightning.

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These are kielbasa from my husband’s home town. Not the big ring he had, all the time. This version is the hot dog bun version, but the taste is the same.

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He requested that I make steamed cabbage like his mom did. Kielbo and steamed cabbage. Dinner many nights in the small town where he grew up.

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Simple steamed cabbage. Two wedges of CSA cabbage. In the steaming basket for about 15 minutes. Served with fresh butter, celery salt and caraway seeds, mixed together and poured over the cabbage.

No, there aren’t any pictures from dinner. I was too lazy to go grab the camera after putting the plates together and heading outside. It hasn’t rained, like it was predicted. I could have grilled those kielbo.

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Mezze

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Inspiration.

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If there was ever a moment that defined how my cooking changed, and how our view of dining also changed, it was a trip to Greece and the Islands in 2004. Third time lucky, I would say. We planned this trip three times. First, 9/11 canceled my 50th birthday present cruise scheduled for late fall 2002. The cruise lines pulled their ships from the Med. Our next attempt, on Windstar, was canceled due to the fact the ship caught on fire and sunk six months before our scheduled cruise.

Finally in 2004, we made it there. Right after the Olympics. There, in the islands, we learned to enjoy small plates of fresh food, simply prepared and eaten at leisure, with wine, a view and good friends.

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Doesn’t this view beat that of a parking lot, or a storm water management pond?

This trip, and our trip to Provence, greatly influenced how I cook, and how we dine. We love putting together a mezze assortment. Mezze being the Greek equivalent of tapas.

And, we love dining out back watching the birds, squirrels, bunnies and butterflies.

Tonight I grilled some old pizza dough I found in the freezer. It looked ugly but tasted great. Put out an assortment of tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and a jar of my ajvar. Nothing really fancy, just “flatbread” to dip and pile. Mix and match.

With a side arugula salad with balsamic.

No pictures of dinner tonight. Sometimes those messy plates of leftover goodies paired with bread or naan, are all we need to remember trips from the past. And, how good the fresh seafood, veggies and fruit tasted. Bought and enjoyed in exotic settings.

I don’t have to go to Greece to eat well. I can’t come up with a view that compares, but love my ajvar spread on charred warm pizza dough. Watching the crape myrtle in the sunlight. Not bad.

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With a glass of old red wine. Loving the Saturday night. What’s your inspiration?

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A Trip Down Memory Lane … On White Bread

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Combining two goals. The Buy Local Challenge and my Sixty@Sixty goal.

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Yes, I know white bread is highly processed. Tell that to my mom who fed us Hauswald’s bread every day. Toast. PB&Js and those lovely tomato sandwiches aka “mater sammiches” (when you were four years old).

When in Royal Farms the other day to get ice for the trip to the Amish farm and money from the ATM, I saw that loaf of Hauswald’s and also thought of a blog post somewhere about simple tomato sandwiches, like we ate as children.

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Hauswald’s was a staple in our house growing up. 75% of my heritage is German. We lived in a mostly German American community in west Baltimore. And, tomatoes? We loved tomatoes all summer. In everything we could make.

Heck, yesterday for breakfast I made toast and spread this on it.

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Another local company, based in Frederick, with all sorts of old recipes recreated. Do you like pickled beets? Apple butter? All memories of my growing up.

As for the Buy Local Challenge, today, like most days included large amounts of locally sourced items. Like the milk for my husband’s cereal.

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Bought at the Hospital Farmer’s Market Friday.

And, the wine at dinner tonight.

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The new winery outside of Frederick. They only sell whites at the moment. Reds will be coming soon, and the winery will open next year. We bought this bottle in Frederick last week. Grape growers are farmers, too!

We had local foods at breakfast, lunch and dinner today. I didn’t cook much either. Simple local foods, as I said, it isn’t hard to support local farms.

Today we ate:
Milk, at breakfast.
Tomatoes, yogurt, beets, cucumbers and greens at lunch. The cucumber became that dill pickle in my crock.

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Sheep’s milk cheese on the flatbread at dinner. The sheep’s milk cheese was from Breezy Willow. Pesto from CSA veggies (carrot tops, radish greens, arugula and scallion tops). The last container from the freezer from last year.

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The rest of dinner was chicken/feta/spinach sausage bought at The Common Market in Frederick, which was baked on top of CSA onions, peppers and pattypan squash. They were drizzled with olive oil, and had nothing but salt and pepper on them.

Simple. Delicious.

Eating locally is easy around here.

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