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Category Archives: Sixty@Sixty

Rediscovering #mdwine

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After that amazing twitter taste off from the Drink Local Wine conference yesterday, where comments and pictures kept popping up on twitterific, I thought I need to pay more attention to what is happening in our own backyard here in Maryland. We had pretty much abandoned Maryland until Black Ankle came along and reignited our interest.

Today we went off on the first of many day trips to see what has popped up around the area. I love Chambourcin done right, and all comments told us to try Port of Leonardtown.

To make this a multi-leveled event, this week for my eat local challenge we had a theme “WAY OUT THERE”. So, why not a drink local post instead of eating locally. We paired local cheese from Brandywine MD with local chambourcin to have lunch outside the winery.

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We now need another road trip to check out the farmstead where this cheese originated. It was excellent as were the dry chambourcin rose and the chambourcin. We brought home some of these lovely wines to enjoy this spring and summer.

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And, yes, there will be a taste off between this late harvest vidal and one of our bottles from Linden VA. MD vs VA. Let the rivalry keep all our winemakers on their game to continue to produce beautiful wines.

Glad that the Drink Local Wine conference in Maryland showed us that MD is up and coming as a wine region. Being a locapour and a locavore is not a bad thing. Besides, Wine in the Woods and Wine in the Garden should keep us busy next month.

Been to any good local wineries lately? If not, you should!

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A Trip Down Memory Lane – Clark’s Farm

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First and foremost to me these days it is all about the Enchanted Forest. Seeing this image when I drive down Rte 108 brings back amazing memories.

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I was 2 1/2 years old when the Enchanted Forest opened. I don’t know how many times we went there. The Clark family preserving these magnificent fairy tale figures and buildings is truly impressive.

But, this is still a farm. A great farm. One that has been here for more than 200 years. I also can’t remember when we started buying sweet corn and tomatoes, almost weekly on our way home to our house off Cedar Lane. Clark’s farm is a working farm surrounded by Columbia.

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Sweet corn. Something my parents bought on the way to and from the ocean. Something we found at small farms all over Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. The produce stand was how many Columbia residents first learned about Clark farm. Incredibly fresh, just picked, sometimes the pick up truck full of corn arriving when we did.

Now, they have diversified, like the smart farmers around here do. Some do CSAs, some do farmer’s markets, Christmas trees, tours, pumpkin patches, pick your own, mazes, you name it.

Clark’s. being very close to Columbia, has an advantage. Come see animals, ride the ponies, take a hay ride, walk the new pine tree maze.

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The maze is fun. I found the black goose, the tortoise and the hare, the teakettle and teacups. Hickory dickory dock.

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Besides all the attractions at Elioak, the farm is selling pasture fed meat. The castle store has their beef and Bowling Green Farm cheese for sale. You can pop in and get meat, now expanded to include lamb, pork and chicken. Twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays, they sell eggs from free range chickens.

The produce stand is open July-September. You can get meat year round. This is a farm nestled right up against Columbia. Thriving, due to Martha and Nora. Take some time and stop in. If you grew up in Maryland, pay that $5 for a trip down memory lane. I just crossed another childhood memory off my sixty@sixty list.

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There is an old lady who lived in a shoe …

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Road Trip!

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Day trips on weekdays out of season are one of the pleasures of retirement. Today we had plans to check out a fairly local “hams” set up to see options for my husband’s towers and shack. But, to appease me, we added a lunch stop and a winery visit, a new one for me to add to my Sixty@sixty list. First, lunch. At a local deli, Big Al’s Market, in St. Michael’s.

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Sometimes it’s nice to be bad and eat sinfully delicious pit beef smoked that day. Right out on the sidewalk. You also know it’s good food when the sheriff’s car and a police car are there for their pick up of lunch. Fresh seafood, caught off Tilghman Island and brought in daily, sold for take home, or eat there. Beef, pork, brisket, turkey, all smoked. Oyster sandwiches. Shrimp salad. All sorts of crab accessories for sale, too.

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The outside, with picnic tables. There are four tables inside too. They also said they had smoked salmon for sale. We should have brought a cooler and I would have been taking home local seafood from the market in the rear. Summertime, they do crabs daily too.

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From there we wandered up Talbot St. to St. Michael’s Winery, in business since 2005, and now growing many vinifera and hybrid grapes on the Eastern shore. Nice crisp white wines. We bought a couple (OK, three) bottles. Nice selection. Cozy little tasting room. Must be crazy during high season on the shore.

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I can do without the cute names, but the oaked chardonnay was a pleasant surprise. I first heard of this winery when one of my employees gave me a bottle of their chocolate zinfandel, a sweet red dessert wine good to pour over dessert cakes or ice cream. They told us they buy the zin grapes from Rhode Island.

Last stop, the ham shack up the road. My husband was suitably impressed with the towers and the shed converted to a shack.

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Surrounded by pine trees and right off the creek, great location for amateur radio. All in all, a nice eight hour road trip. A couple of hours down and back and four hours to wander around and make the visit. St. Michael’s is a lovely destination convenient to us, and on the way to the ocean resorts. I see more road trips this spring and summer, and for me, those road trips will almost always include looking for local mom and pop restaurants, or markets.

What could be better if you wanted Maryland seafood and Maryland wine? If you want to try St. Michael’s wine, they regularly attend Columbia’s Wine in the Woods, coming up in May.

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Chayote!

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A new vegetable. Part of my Sixty@sixty challenge. That is, the six new fruits and veggies part of the challenge. I already have three done. This is the fourth. Where did I find chayote and what is it?

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I stopped at Weis the other day on the way home from the Conservancy. I needed a few items and wanted to see how their renovations turned out. They completely redid the store. They need to be competitive now that Harris Teeter is coming to Waverly. Harris Teeter opens in April.

The new Weis is pretty different. I was looking for fresh basil, to use in my Meyer lemon basil fizz, and to use in a tomato sauce. I like the living basil plants.

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The basil has nothing to do with the recipe, but was the reason I stopped at the store. Weis has some fairly interesting veggies in their produce section. They have yacon which I blogged about after getting it in my CSA basket.

Lots of good Latin and Mexican veggies there. Reasonable prices too.

So, what could I do that was interesting with chayote. It is in the squash family. Not really flavorful. It seems to be one of those veggies that takes on the flavors of your seasonings and broths. I found a “posole” recipe on epicurious. Not real posole with pork and hominy, but a vegetarian take on it.

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Traditionalists don’t like it much. But, it was pretty decent. I did alter the recipe a bit to use what I could find, and what I have here.

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I used canned hominy, aka posole. This gave me another check off on my 60@60 list. A childhood memory. My dad used to make hominy for breakfast, with sausage.

Cook the homily in a quart of veggie broth. You need more for dried hominy, but the canned is already cooked so less evaporation. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook one diced onion and a couple of cloves of minced garlic in olive oil, until browned. Add one pound of washed cut up greens. I used broccoli rabe. The recipe calls for collards. Didn’t have any. Add two julienned pitted chayote. A cup of the broth from the hominy pot. Simmer for twenty minutes, covered. Toast a half cup of pecans, chopped. Add the pecans, a half cup of dried cherries, an ounce of cider vinegar and the hominy with the rest of the broth and cook uncovered at a low heat for twenty more minutes. Just before serving, add a teaspoon or so of salt, and three tablespoons of butter.

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I have to admit. This is really, really good. Not real posole, but a very satisfying vegetarian stew.

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Tackle Six Rightsizing Projects

Part of my Sixty@Sixty list. Back on my 60th birthday, I made a list. Ten different categories. Six things in each one. The last one. Rightsizing projects.

I finally culled down the list of all that needs to be done around here and came up with these items. Here is the list. And, below, the progress made in each one of them.

1. Books
2. Clothes
3. XMAS decorations
4. Pantry and Kitchen
5. Pictures and collectibles
6. Travel Souvenirs

Big items. Not something easily achieved, but after moving 42 years of things out of my MIL’s house when she went to a retirement apartment I know these are things we need to address. I mean, how many T shirts from other places do we really need in this house?

I have made some progress in each category, but there is a long way to go. Highlights.

Books — I have way too many cookbooks and magazines. I haven’t tackled that puppy yet, but I will get there. I mean, Great Dinners from Life? I don’t want to know how old that book is.

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I did put together three grocery bags full of work reference books, old fiction, paperbacks and hiking books. They went off to the book bin. There used to be one at Glenwood but it is gone. My husband found another one, and it got a hefty deposit. Besides the donation to the bin, I gave my mom all sorts of old paperbacks, mostly Patricia Cornwell and Tom Clancy. She took them to her friends at church. They pass around books to read.

Clothes — this one started last fall and is still a priority. I put together two huge plastic bags full of work clothes and other things after Hurricane Sandy. Gave them to HoCoRising’s SO to take to Jersey on her trip to help hurricane victims.

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After that great beginning, I have donated to the boxes at Kendall’s, four more bags of work clothes. After all, I now live in blue jeans or shorts and only need a few nice items in my wardrobe. Besides, getting rid of all my larger sized clothes is my incentive to keep losing weight. I am almost finished with my stuff. Time to tackle my better half’s closet full of things he won’t be wearing much anymore. Does he still need five suits? All those management suits and ties. Really. He could keep two, one summer weight and one winter. The rest. Need a good home for someone new to the workforce.

XMAS decorations — this was one royal pain to do. We really need to throw away things we no longer use. Since no charities want them, they go in the trash. I dumped quite a few tree decorations, and we went through all the lights and the wreaths and deer to only have good strings of lights left.

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Besides fixing the lights, I also made a vow. No more Christmas card buying. There are more than enough all over the study. I consolidated everything this year and will not succumb to those post Christmas sales anymore. I have at least ten years worth of cards around here.

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Travel Souvenirs — Besides the dozens of T shirts I have given away, there are the other things. How about volksmarching medals? We used to do volksmarching and collect medals. I donated them to the Conservancy for a geocaching event. There is another one in March and the rest of the medals will go there. The children loved getting medals when they finished the challenge. They also loved the foreign coins in one of the boxes on the trail. Both came from our souvenir stashes. In March, I am also contemplating donating all our postcards collected on travels. The children really have fun finding treasures in the boxes at the geocache sites.

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Pantry and Kitchen — I have cleaned out the spice containers and made rubs, herb mixes and spice mixes. Some I gave away at Christmas. The rest I am plowing through in my cooking. No more industrial spice and herb purchases. Except for garlic powder, salt and oregano, which I use quite a bit.

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Getting a cleaned up pantry is a priority, and I am nowhere near completion on this one.

As for my last item, pictures and collectibles, I haven’t done much other than organize. Now comes the hard part. Downsizing it. We have stamps from my husband’s dad. Dolls and pictures from his mom. Pictures from my mom. Depression glass. Doilies! Yes, a blanket sized plastic zip bag full of hand crocheted items from his mom. My grandmother’s china. All these things. Never used anymore. What to do with them. They have no real monetary value, just sentiment.

Beyond the fun things on my Sixty@sixty list, these are the hard ones.

Wheat Berries

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In my 60@60 challenge, one of my categories was new proteins. I decided to buy some wheat berries at Wegmans. In the bulk food aisle. They are high in protein and fiber. And, they are chewy.

After buying them, we had wheat berry “risotto” at Bistro Blanc at the cellar dinner. Marc, the chef at Bistro Blanc, told us be sure to toast the wheat berries first.

I searched around on the internet to find a recipe. Then, never really followed it. I pretty much winged it based on my interpretation of risotto. I did remember to toast them, after they had been soaked overnight.

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Into the oven they went, and since there was more than a cup, the rest went into the refrigerator, destined to become a salad later this weekend.

For the risotto, I started with scallions and mushrooms in olive oil. Added the wheat berries to the pan. After they got all happy with the olive oil and veggies, added a cup of white wine. There were also six cups of low sodium chicken broth on the stove to use in this recipe.

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It took 45 minutes of adding broth and stirring occasionally to get to the final product. At the end, I grated a little pecorino into it. All finished it looked like this, with salmon and roasted veggies. Brussels sprouts and romanesco bought from Zahradka at the farmers event last Sunday.

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Did I mention they are chewy? Not what you expect from risotto, but really tasty. A meal this hearty required a big white wine, or a light red. We chose to go with a big white. Linden 2009 Hardscrabble Vineyard Chardonnay. A huge white wine. Almost as “chewy” as the wheat berry risotto.

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Cross another item off my list for becoming sixty years old. This meal was a definite winner. Oh, by the way, the Linden can last a decade. It is that big of a white wine.

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Snow

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It is considerably colder outside today than it has been in quite a while. And, on top of all else, it has snowed about an inch. It’s about the same as it was the day after Christmas.

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Just a dusting. Enough to delay the schools so the buses can safely navigate after they treat the roadways. I hate the dustings of snow in really cold weather, when the sun comes out. It doesn’t go away and it becomes black ice, treacherous to walk and drive on.

Since I don’t have to get up at oh dark thirty anymore (the proper military shorthand, and not that stupid movie title), it doesn’t bother me much when it snows. Usually it melts before you have to deal with it. Today, though, it is bitter cold. I can look at this as a good thing, as finally some of these nasty flu and cold germs will hopefully die. When it doesn’t get cold enough, the colds and flu bugs linger on.

Additionally, the nasty little bugs that thrive in our bushes and trees will vanish as well. Good things for my plants, and our friends’ vineyards.

I just wish I didn’t have to clean off the car to go out later. Yes, we have a garage. It is the home of the snow thrower, and the tractor. The shed has the materials for the radio tower in it. Bolts, masts, coax cable. Tower base. All those things in the place the tractor belongs.

As for the snow thrower, it has to occupy one space for the winter. You don’t want to be digging your way to the shed when this happens.

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As I said, the snow is just a nuisance for a little while around here. Today it is sunny and lovely to see it sparkling. I do hope we don’t get more tomorrow though. I have things I want to get done.

Tonight we will make a cozy dinner, and try out a new grain for risotto. I will see how it goes and post about another notch in that 60@60 challenge.

Make Mine Mofongo

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Yes, I finally got around to making the plantains. Another item crossed off my Sixty@Sixty challenge. Lots of local goodies in the dinner. But, not those plantains.

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The plantains were not green. Like the recipes call for. They were getting ripe. That just meant they were quicker to cook in the salted water. I have to admit I really liked this dish. It does need more garlic though. I think I underdid the garlic.

I also chose a recipe that called for putting the patties in a saute pan, and not for deep frying patties or balls. This one.

Sort of. I just did the second half of it. Not the chicken.

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Aren’t they great looking? There is local food in them too. The garlic. The bacon.

Served with a side salad, mostly local, and a local wine. I combined local dining with non-native ingredients. Making those foodie and locavore worlds collide.

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Tomatoes, arugula, wine and cauliflower all from local sources. I have been incorporating local items into many of our meals. Even when I go out there to try something new. I liked this version of mofongo. Less fat than deep fried. My husband said they needed more garlic. I agree.

By the way, the broth used in this recipe was made with those beef bones from England Acres. Awesome broth. Made yesterday.

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Beef bones, salt and water. Cooked down until rich. Refrigerated. When taken out, discard that fat layer and leave the clear broth. I used just a small amount of it. The rest will go into a gravy for gnocchi later this week.

I really have changed what I cook and how. It’s a great hobby in retirement. Learning to cook outside your native comfort zone.

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A “Twofer”

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That is, checking two things off my Sixty@Sixty list. Today being Friday, it’s a day we tend to take day trips. It’s also an errand running day, so we combined the two things. We also gave the pickup some needed mileage. It doesn’t get used much in the winter. We set the GPS today to do back roads, going and coming.

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You know, shortest distance, avoid highways. One of our favorite ways to explore. I was on a mission. I wanted to get to Catoctin Mountain Orchards before they closed for three months. They close February, March and April every year. I wanted to pick up some salad dressings and salsa to use a basis for making my own. I wanted to see the ingredients. Compare the taste. Use my frozen fruit from Larriland and Butler’s. I have peaches, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries in the freezer.

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We also found a bonus for my husband. Venison sticks and sausage. We get venison sausage when we visit Linden, and here was a version from Pennsylvania, for him to try. Not sure where we will use it, but what the heck.

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We also found cow’s milk feta from Hagerstown. Time to compare to our favorite from Bowling Green Farms. After leaving Catoctin, we decided to stop at a market we never visited. Gateway. One of my goals on my challenge. Visit new markets and farm stands. Nothing like a candyland, farm market, convenience store and liquor store. Gateway is truly interesting. If you are into candy making, they have one incredible wall full of molds, ingredients and other things you need to make candy.

They also have bins full of penny candy. Not that it is a penny anymore, but these fulfill my challenge to relive childhood memories.

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These are the candies we bought before going to the movies. They bring back memories of Saturday matinees, and bad for your fillings chewy candies. My husband has already gotten into them. I did pick up a few other favorites. Rock candy and coconut slices.

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The rock candy will be used two ways. In tea, in place of honey. Really strong tea for when you feel under the weather. And, with some Pikesville rye. Making memories like my dad did. Rock n Rye.

The coconut slices. Yum! An old friend. Something that just makes you smile.

All in all, a good day tripping Friday. Here’s to more adventures in the coming months.

Sixty @ Sixty Using the Yacon

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My personal challenge in turning sixty. Use six new exotic veggies. Tonight it was the yacon. Remember the yacon? The weird veggie in my CSA just before Christmas.

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Yacon is a relative of the sunflower and the Jerusalem artichoke, only slightly sweeter. Grown mostly in the Andes, this veggie made its way to our home in our organic CSA box, from the Amish in Lancaster. I found a recipe that used it raw in a salad with other fruits and veggies. I decided to try it out this way.

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Shaved with the mandoline. Paired with apple, carrot and greens. Finished with pomegranate seeds, pistachios and pepitas. Sprinkled with goat cheese feta.

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The salad, and a roasted chicken, were dinner tonight. Served with a Glen Manor wine. The chicken from a local farm. The wine, one of my favorite Sauvignon blancs out there. It tastes like a New Zealand wine.

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But the star of the dinner, I have to admit, was the Stone House multigrain bread. Taken out of the freezer and baked for 15 minutes. Crisp crunchy crust. Tons of flavor. It was the highlight of dinner. Thank you TLV farms, for having them at the tree cutting days at the local farm. I stocked up in the freezer with their breads.

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Back to mostly local cooking, and good for us veggies. The holidays are over, but good food is still out there. Oh, and the other highlight of the dinner. My birthday roses are still hanging in there. Way to go, Raimondis.

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