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Category Archives: Sixty@Sixty

Making Resolutions … Or Not

Last year I replaced resolution making with my “Sixty@Sixty” challenge to do in my 60th year. I found it was much more fun but still productive.

Like in my rightsizing challenge. Taking on the kitchen and pantry, the overload of books not needed, the work clothing we had in the closet.

I made it through most of those categories, failing when it came to finishing six items in traveling, birding, festivals and diners.

I blogged a few days back about whether I would forego resolutions again in the upcoming year.

I decided on a hybrid of the two. A couple of challenges, mixed with some real resolutions.

We need to clean out our garage of things that don’t get used. Or that should be stored elsewhere. I think it’s one doable goal. That we can get done.

I want to expand my baking. Using yeast for things like bagels, pretzels, and some other challenges brought about by reading Smitten Kitchen after finding that great granola recipe from Deb’s cookbook.

I am also committed to break out of my rut and get us to those new destinations, even if just for an overnight trip.

I want to redo the garden, and I have seeds for some challenging plants, like cardoons and Malabar spinach.

I want to go to The Common Market once a month and bring home something from the bulk food bins that I have never cooked myself, like those exotic rices, beans, grains and nuts.

As for blogging, I made it through the year (well, I have three days left) with blogging daily. Sometimes it was posted after midnight, but there are posts for every day.

Next year, cutting it back, to eliminate some redundancy, to 4-5 times a week and focusing on local things to do, places to go, and my farm series needs to be resurrected.

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I also need to update those pages here on the blog, and finish the two draft pages I want to add.

As for time volunteering. The big challenge this year is the food preservation program I am working on. Plus, more time out on the trails around the Conservancy.

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It is good to be busy. To have goals. To keep retirement interesting. 2013 has been pretty eventful.

Here’s to turning 61 in a few hours. That’s not old. That’s just getting started in the seventh decade. And, soon it will be 2014. Amazing how time flies when we’re having fun.

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.

One Week Left

Until I turn 61 years old. This last week before my birthday has been pretty crazy. The weather has been amazing, with spring temperatures.

The last minute holiday baking and cooking has been intense. I got shrimp from Boarman’s the other day, in order to make steamed shrimp with Old Bay. The requested dish for my brother’s Christmas Eve party.

I made two kinds of cookies today. Chocolate pistachio and chocolate chocolate chunk.

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These cookies again came from Bon Appetit. Hard to make. They tended to break up when slicing. But, very good. Particularly with red wine, for dessert tonight.

As for the weather, with the doors open today (it hit 72 degrees here), the starlings made a huge racket in the trees out back.

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Thankfully, they weren’t nailing my bird feeders.

As for the last week of my 60th year, I did request that we try and go to the newly opening Highland Inn for brunch on my birthday. That is, if they open in time.

On the way home from Boarman’s yesterday, they looked like they were close to opening but who knows.

I saw their new menu on Facebook today. A bit pricey, but for special occasions, like those where we used to go to King’s Contrivance, they might be a new local special place.

We shall see.

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Root’s

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In Manheim. Pennsylvania.

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Checking off items on my “resolution” when I turned 60. A new city in a surrounding state. A new market. Lunch at some locally owned family type place.

I found this market on an app on my iPad. Food Network on the Road. Every Tuesday a huge food market, auction, flea market, antique dealings, collectors, and who knows what else.

Including lots of locally produced items.

I was on a mission. See if anyone sold salsify. They didn’t. Find a reasonably priced butter for baking. Found one. Maple syrup. Yes. Ground coriander. Check.

Oh, and this. Which I did not buy!

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As for my favorite item, it was this one.

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Can’t wait to try out the yellow bell pepper pappardelle. I went on the web site when I got home and found out it is available locally. At Casual Gourmet in Glenwood, and at Secolari, the new shop in Columbia Mall.

I need to bookmark those locations, as these pastas may become my new standard. I plopped a little of the soup mix in my turkey soup. At $2 a package, it was a great bargain. Mix and match, it seems.

Oh, and of course, in Amish country, I couldn’t resist one of these.

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What a lovely day we had today. Temps in the 50s. Nice lunch at Hahn’s in the market. Cookies in the car on the way home. And, the promise of some very good pasta this weekend.

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The Fall Wine Trip

Every few years we take a winery hopping trip somewhere in the US. We just came home from an extended weekend in Southwestern Virginia, where we visited three new wineries, one old favorite, and stopped today to break up our drive home, at Linden.

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The new wineries. Early Mountain, Villa Appalachia and Valhalla. I will be writing individual posts about each visit. The old favorite, Barboursville. More on them later this week, too.

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We now limit ourselves to two wineries a day, max, in order to enjoy the visits, and not feel like we are rushing from place to place. Lunch on a terrace, like the one at Early Mountain, for example.

We also have become selective about what we buy, as we now aren’t buying to age wine, but to sample a few interesting new varietals, or to pick up some for family functions.

Everyone who reads my blog know that I am a locavour. Most also know that I fully support the wineries in MD and VA, as they are becoming better, and a few are pushing the local industry into making very good wine. Wine that can stand up to the established vinicultural areas in the US, and even beyond.

We had debated driving to Long Island to sample their wines, but decided not to tempt fate. This time last year they were preparing for Hurricane Sandy. We didn’t want to make plans too far in advance, in case we were all hunkering down to protect ourselves in this QUOTE prolific UNQUOTE hurricane season. Obviously, the forecasts were off. We have seen a calmer year than any of the past couple of years.

We just figure that a trip to the North Fork will happen in a different season, like maybe spring or early summer.

So, we headed off to VA, spending one night outside of Charlottesville and one outside of Roanoke. Of course, both places were awash in football fans. I really need to plan trips around home games. At least UVA and VATech both won, making for happy fans during our travels.

We may have to drive a bit more than we did when visiting Napa and Sonoma, and when we went to the Finger Lakes a few years back, but we can find some real gems in the VA mountains.

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I wish the weather had cooperated this weekend so we could have enjoyed the outdoors more, but all in all, a good trip. Now, I need to put away those wines we purchased.

They will be featured in some of my winter locavore dinners. Tomorrow, I will have a long review of Early Mountain, with many pictures we took there. It was a great beginning to the weekend.

Anyone living in the Mid Atlantic should consider putting together a short trip using the Blue Ridge Parkway, and/or Skyline Drive, down to the gorgeous mountains, for the views, the food, and the wine.

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Bitter Melon Soup?

OK, we tried it. It was edible. It is supposedly good for us. Cross that off my Sixty@Sixty list and let’s move on.

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We got bitter melon in the CSA last Thursday. According to most web sites, blanching it will remove most of the bitterness.

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Umm, they lied. Have you had hot and sour soup? It kind of reminds me of that. Thankfully, I made basmati rice and garlic naan, to tone it down a bit.

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I was surprised at how easy it was to make. But now, I do have fish sauce, bean thread noodles and some leftover mushrooms to use up. Along with a large amount of basmati rice.

It looked interesting when cooking it.

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And, the seeds and white pith inside had to be scraped out, but the seeds were bright red.

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I was glad that the pork mixture stayed inside so well. I was afraid it would fall out. I did have extra pork so I dropped “meatballs” in the broth along with the stuffed bitter melon. Oh well, bitter melon is supposed to lower your blood sugar and lots of other healthy things.

Found the recipe here.

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Bitter Melon?

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OK, this is a new one to me.

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Asian or African in nature, there are numerous varieties of this prickly looking bitter vegetable that is supposed to be a super fruit, when it comes to reducing blood sugar levels and some other things.

The full share CSA members found one of these in our boxes today. I hung around for a while to see how many would swap it. The answer, after watching about a dozen full share members pick up their boxes. ONE!

Interesting CSA members with us. Willing to try something we had never seen before.

So, I did the research. Expect a blog post about making bitter melon soup with pork. I need to get the rest of the ingredients, but I am going to try it.

What else did we get?

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1 Gold acorn Squash- Windy Hollow Organics
1 Yellow Watermelon – White Swan Acres
1 bag Red Potatoes – Green Valley Organics
2 8-Ball Zucchini – Red Fox Organics
2 Italian Eggplants – Windy Hollow Organics
1 Yellow Bell Pepper – Organic Willow Acres
1 Bitter Melon – De Glae Organics
1 bunch Thai Basil – Kirkwood Herbs
1 bunch Dinosaur Kale – Peaceful Valley Organics
1 bunch Lettuce – Landisdale Organics
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes- Taste of Nature

Never had gold acorn squash before. And, the eight ball zucchini are new to me. And that Thai basil. Wow! It overpowered you with the fragrance. There will be pesto made tomorrow.

What did I do with all this goodness? Came home and put it all away and made pizza.

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I used up the last of the chicken I roasted, with halloumi, scallions, marinara and garlic, oregano and olive oil.

I’ll get into the CSA stuff this weekend. I need to hit the hospital market for cilantro and shallots, and Harris Teeter for fish sauce, mushrooms and bean thread noodles to make this recipe for the soup.

Also loving getting lettuce again. Seasons are changing. The veggies reflect it.

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