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Rural Development

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The Fairy House Version. Yes, it is fairy house development season out at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday the 23rd at 10 AM.

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I mean, if you were a woodland fairy, wouldn’t you enjoy this waterfront property complete with outdoor seating and water features? The imaginative homes crafted by our local children are always fun to explore.

This event is immensely popular.

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For all ages. And, all skill levels. Just bring your love of the outdoors, and let your children create memories in the forest.

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Details here.

Film Feastival

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The 7th annual festival at Clark’s Elioak Farm. Next Tuesday night from 6-8 pm. This year’s film is “Just Eat It“. Focusing on food waste. The film will be shown in the barn at 7 pm.

The event is free, with a suggested donation to support Days of Taste. The Howard County program is held at the Fairgrounds usually. Every spring. A very worthwhile immersion for our school children.

So, come out to the farm Tuesday night, the 19th.

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Wander through the old Enchanted Forest. Visit the petting area. Sample foods from local restaurants. See the film.

Going for the Green

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In wineries. Black Ankle Vineyards is an amazing place to visit if you want to see a “green” winery.

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Sitting there on the patio, looking up at the living roof.

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Noting the solar panel, on your way down to the building. Once inside you can see the straw construction, and the reclaimed material in their counter tops, along with many other examples of how they continue to reflect their love of the land, and their dedication to sustainability.

We hadn’t been there in a while. It is one of the closest wineries to our home. One of the priciest in Maryland as well. They tend not to participate in festivals. They do a very good business with sales on site. In the past, we found very few wines available year round. They often sold out of the most popular varietals.

Friday night music, with hundreds picnicking on the patio and the lawn.

This visit, we went on a Sunday. Still, one very busy place.

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They are adding a new outdoor tasting area, to handle the crowds on popular days.

We did a tasting, and rejoined their wine club.

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Sat outside and enjoyed a glass of rose and of the Reserve Chardonnay. With a local cheese, from Cherry Glen. One of the two great goat cheese producers in Maryland.

Glad we took a day trip out there and reconnected. They are still making outstanding red and white wines from estate grown grapes.

In Search Of

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Replacements. For my favorite restaurant and favorite food source.

I was pretty shocked and, for lack of a better word, bummed, when Bistro Blanc closed. It was our “Cheers”. Our local bar, where we could order a burger and a bottle of good red wine, not expensive. We could sit and chat with the locals. We could banter with the bartenders and the owner.

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We celebrated many special occasions there. My husband’s 65th birthday, with all the trimmings. Prepared to what I wanted, by Chef Diego. Paired with wines from my cellar. Surrounded by close friends.

I really hope Raj finds a new home soon, and opens again. But it won’t be walking distance from my home, like the old location.

Then, another hit.

Friends and Farms ceased operations. That was a real blow to us. We have been customers for 30 of their 46 months of operation. Phil and Tim created a friendly family style business. Personal service. Care for the customers. Some of the best meat and seafood we could buy.

I miss them greatly. That weekly visit to tease the staff, and pick up their specials. And my staples.

I know I won’t find another one stop shop to fill that gap.

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We did visit Local Homestead Products in New Windsor yesterday. They could satisfy my local cheese, dairy, egg and meat requirements. But not the seafood.

I have been buying at Annapolis Seafood when visiting my mom in her senior apartment. Good stuff there, but not the same as that freshly prepared fish from Reliant, that Friends and Farms provided.

Homestead sells beef, chicken, pork, lamb and goat. Once I work my way through my freezer, they may be my go-to source for meat. They also sell Pequea Valley yogurt, Shepherd’s Manor Sheep Cheese. Trickling Springs dairy. All sort of eggs, including quail eggs.

Yesterday we picked up some sausage, wax beans and ice cream. Just to try them out, and establish a baseline.

Those other really great products from Friends and Farms. Like the peanuts, the rice, the tomato puree, things we enjoyed and bought regularly. Now, back to markets and farms. No longer a one stop shop.

Why is it that we don’t support local businesses? Chains stay around, while good small businesses struggle. I suppose cheap does beat out quality around here.

Needless to say, it is sad we can’t keep the small places in business.

The rumor here. Dunkin Donuts will go in where Bistro Blanc was located. Great. Another chain to hurt K9 and Coffee next door to it.

An All American Dinner …

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… on an All American holiday.

Fourth of July. One of my favorite holidays. Mainly, because we relax. We grill. We watch the illegal fireworks out here in west county.

So, what did we do this year, in the cold, dreary, rainy weather?

We still cooked a meal using mostly local ingredients, and a local wine. But, we couldn’t easily grill. Besides, it was too damp and miserable to stand out there and grill.

We started with a local flair on the classic gin and tonic.

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Made with Catoctin Creek Gin. A fairly local distillery in northern Virginia. By the way, their rye is awesome for a classic Manhattan.

The last steaks from Friends and Farms, who unfortunately went out of business last month. Leaving us to scramble for a new source of outstanding meat and seafood at reasonable prices. More on that in a later post.

As for the side dish, enter my zucchini.

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Yes, friends, lock your car doors. It is zucchini season. We have zucchini many days of every week. This was simple. Baked with my onions and a can of diced tomatoes (I am finally out of tomatoes in the freezer). Served over Pappardelle’s pasta, picked up at Casual Gourmet.

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Highlight of this meal, the wine.

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Another Virginia product. This one a keeper. 2009 was an excellent summer here in the midAtlantic. Hot, mostly dry. Perfect for red wines. RdV is the best of Virginia. This bottle, bought at Bistro Blanc the night before they closed (what is it with my favorite places closing this year?), it was big, bold, a baby. It needs more time to develop.

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The meal?

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Pan fry the steaks. Add some steak sauce. Serve the zucchini-tomato-onion bake over the pasta. Open wine. Celebrate the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Guys With Trucks

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A few weeks back I talked about volunteers with trucks helping the Conservancy staff when they heard of items they could use, items that needed to be hauled in trucks.

The last few weeks? We need guys with trucks to help those neighbors whose properties have been trashed in the wake of the tornado. There are volunteer helpers to cut down trees, into manageable pieces.

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At the Town Hall the other night, there was discussion of the need for trucks to haul debris. Commercial trucks are charged when they enter the landfill. Private citizens aren’t. The county promised to look into the creation of a solution to help those who are cleaning up. Cleaning up on our own dimes. Insurance does not cover tree removal, if the trees don’t threaten your home, or block access to your property. Many residents are paying up to five figures for tree removal. Which is still going on, two weeks after the tornado.

We have made eight trips to the landfill. Thankfully, they are open late.

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The lines aren’t too bad to dump tree debris. But, it is a very busy place.

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When your yard looks like this. It takes many days to get it cleaned.

It’s why the volunteers at the Mid Atlantic Baptist Network could use guys with trucks.

Whole Foods 5% Day to Support Conservancy

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Come join us tomorrow at Whole Foods Columbia, to raise money for the expansion of the Howard County Conservancy.

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Every dollar spent there will have 5% donated to the Conservancy building fund. Matched by the France Merrick Foundation.

I will be there. So will Ranger the Owl. I think Ranger will get more attention than me, but that’s OK.

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The Conservancy has raised over 60% of what we need to make the expansion a reality. Ground breaking is scheduled this fall.

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If you have never been there, you really don’t know what you are missing. It is one of the most enchanting sites, that does so much for the citizens of our county.

So, come spend some money. And, stop by and say HI.

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