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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.

High Maintenance …

… or what I did on my summer vacation.


Storm water management, and failing infrastructure. As in 29 year old patio and deck. We decided to bite the bullet and conquer our aging outdoor areas while dealing with longstanding water issues surrounding our house. Not sexy. Not fun. Not cheap. But, they had to be done.

Our house will be 30 years old next year. Columbia, right down the road, will be 50 years old next June. As in any aging area, there are always places that need attention. That old movie, The Money Pit, comes to mind. No matter how you look at it, you need to fix what is broken, and deal with design/build problems.

Our patio bit the dust last winter. Big time.




After. Well, almost after. We still have to do landscaping, and they did do sod up to the deck.

The deck contractors, who also do our maintenance cedar staining start tomorrow. Hopefully, in two or three weeks we will have a new composite deck and freshly stained siding, garage doors, porch furniture, front door, and trim. Someone please remind me we bought a brick house. Where did we go wrong? All this trim to keep up.

As for the storm water management, we decided to bury all the downspouts and tie them together, create a slit drain to carry water off our driveway, and dump all the water out into our field. So far, so good. With all the evening showers after the install, we have seen massive improvement in drainage. Finally. After many attempts to deal with keeping water out of the garage, and away from the foundation. It has been a long learning process, and we think we may have finally solved our water problems. I will know for sure this winter, when snow melt from the roof and down the drive test the limits of the new system.


Eight inch sewer pipe being laid. The system starts with four inch pipe from a slit drain. Goes to six inch around the house. Where the downspouts and sump pump hose meet, it bumps up to eight inch. It all comes out about 300 feet beyond the house, into a rock lined swale.


The slit drain.


Thankfully, our pretty much rotted deck was slated for demolition this summer. Even the pressure treated footers are reaching the end of their lives. Hello Azek, goodbye cedar.

This was not my favorite summer. We didn’t go anywhere. I just wrote checks. Many checks. Rhine did a great job with the drainage, sidewalk, patio and will finish the landscaping after our deck is done.

I hope to get the grill up and running, before it gets too cold to enjoy the patio and deck.

The New Normal

These days. My typical Tuesday, to do all my shopping in one fell swoop.

Pick up the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.


Lancaster Farm Fresh. An Amish cooperative of over 100 farmers. Organic for the price of conventional. We are in the last third of the summer season. Getting ready to sign up for the eight week fall extension.

Figuring out what to make with what we got. Thinking about stuffing peppers.

Heading off to Boarman’s market to finish my shopping. Those back roads from Braeburn to Hall Shop to Highland.


Picking up the proteins that now replace what I used to get from Friends and Farms. Sausage for stuffing. Filets for a date night dinner. Chicken breasts for tomorrow.


Finding local eggs there since there are no eggs left in the house. So much of what we eat now comes from the local sources and the small businesses around here. Not a bad way to shop.


The best part of these pick ups? That amazing bread from She Wolf. A real highlight of our CSA. Maple and Oat Sourdough.


And more trivial local interesting food stuff.

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Because every year I get drawn in by the signs on Rte. 32 that tell me Jenny’s market has fresh lima beans. Shelled by the patriarch of the family. If you have ever shelled lima beans, you know you do much work to get those tasty beans out of their shells.

The beans, corn and scallions in today’s version of succotash come from Jenny’s. The red pepper, from my CSA.

The cornerstone of one absolutely delicious Sunday dinner.

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Fingerlings from the CSA. Salmon from a trip to Wegmans. Wines?

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A local Sauvignon Blanc throwdown. I liked the Linden one. My husband, the Big Cork.

To me, around here, summer is always about fresh food. Bought locally. Prepared simply.

Slow(er) Food

A few days ago I blogged about fast food options at home. I got a few comments about my cast iron pan.

csa and lamb dinner and pans 015 And, about seasoning it. I have had my original two pans about a decade or so. I bought them at Tractor Supply. On sale. They are Lodge pans. I am not sure if others are as good, but these pans have handled just about everything and are very easy to clean, and to keep seasoned.

I only use hot water to clean them. With an abrasive sponge to scrub. I season occasionally with olive oil. Put in the oven. They are definitely non stick.

Besides using them for quick cooking, I do make dinners that take a bit more time. Like with these pork chops.

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I had seared them in the pan, then I put them in the oven with some apple cider to finish them while keeping them moist. Pork takes a little more time to cook.

As for other options that need more time in the oven, but not a huge commitment in active preparation, I have many meals that take 10-15 minutes to set up. Then, about half an hour to execute.

Like this week. This was my CSA basket.

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So many choices. The first night I decided to make lamb meatballs with stuffed patty pan squash and fingerlings.

I stuffed the squash with half a tomato from my garden, crumbled feta, herbs and olive oil. Boiled the fingerlings. Put the squash in the oven while prepping the meatballs. It took about 15 minutes to prep. 30 minutes to cook. The result?

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Excellent meal. By the way, I cooked the meatballs in a muffin tin. It wasn’t a very fancy meal but it certainly was full of flavor. And done in less time than driving to a restaurant, getting put on a waiting list and hanging out for 30-45 minutes waiting for a table.

We had a nice cocktail out on the patio. Once the oven timer went off, we came in, opened a pinot noir and had a leisurely meal.

I have learned to cook simply. Using the fresh ingredients from my CSA. Baking or sautéing a protein. Taking the time to sit at the table and have a quiet conversation. While not spending $50-$100 for dinner. :Like you easily can do around here. Those drinks, appetizers, wine, tip, taxes and desserts all add up.

We like to go out a few times a month, but can eat better foods, with incredible wines, by putting together meals with great local fresh ingredients.


“Fast” Food

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Today was the first day back to school around here. Lots of cars on the road. When we commuted, this week (and the week after New Year’s) were the busiest on our local roads. Commuting took longer. Everyone seemed to be back on the highways and coming home meant delays. You got home tired, hungry and in no mood to cook.

My friend, Julia, who writes a local blog, posed the question about how to deal with cooking when your work days are long.

I thought I would take a crack at answering her question. How do you keep from dialing that delivery place, or picking up really bad for you food, because you are just too tired to cook?

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This is my secret weapon. My cast iron pan. It sits on the stove all the time. I use it at least twice a week. Sometimes more. Here I am making bison burgers. I had a pound of bison from the CSA. We made burgers for dinner one night. Two for dinner. Two became bison chili later that week. All ground up with black beans, crushed tomatoes with chilis, peppers, onions and spice.

I use the pan to make frittatas. Like this one.

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Another easy dinner. I nuked one potato. Sliced it. I had made a baking sheet full of bacon over the weekend. This was some of it. The rest you saw on those burgers above. Mixed up eggs, milk and herbs. Eggs in the pan. Covered with potato, sliced tomato, bacon and grated cheese. A few minutes on the stove and a few minutes to finish in the oven. Quick, easy. Really a good meal.

Besides my cast iron pan, I also rely on make ahead and freeze meals. Like these.

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Stuffed peppers. Some leftover pork sausage. Rice from the rice cooker. A can of tomatoes. I made four of them. Two one night and two in the freezer for later.

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Turkey meat loaf. This time I made two, but I have made four of them. I always have some sort of meat loaf in the freezer. Oh, and lasagna. My other favorite freezer meal. I don’t have to buy them from the store. I just make a large pan, and freeze at least four more meals for the two of us.

I can put together a good dinner in 20-30 minutes. A simple salad. Some bread. Maybe some pan cooked fish or sausage. A few microwaved potatoes.

There is no need to get fast food pick up. You can easily put a meal on the table with simple ingredients. Yep, it takes practice, but it’s worth it to avoid all that sodium and sugar in those prepackaged meals.

Now, if we could only get the traffic under control around here.