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Personal Pan Pizza

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My Way.


On one of those days that the foodie and the locavore collide. It all started with sending my husband to the store to get oranges and grapeseed oil. Oranges to use with the CSA fennel for a salad. A neutral oil so I can bake butternut squash to make hummus. He comes home with figs, which he decided would be perfect in a pizza.

The first fig, prosciutto, arugula and goat cheese pizza we ever had was in Napa Valley about five years ago. We have been attempting to duplicate it since then.

This time I went with grilling them.


Served with a local wine, using local goat cheese, arugula, scallions and garlic, I got a decent crispy thin pizza.


Early Mountain 2011 Petit Manseng, a very crisp version of a lesser grown grape. Early Mountain is north of Charlottesville VA. A fairly new winery that we visited on our weekend trip. We picked up a mix of their current wines. A young winery, under this ownership, we expect to see real growth in their offerings as their vines mature.

This dinner was really simple to put together. Spread some garlic and oil on crust from COSTCO. Add a few figs, some goat cheese, some prosciutto, some scallions. Drizzle some lemon infused olive oil over it. Put it on a screaming hot grill for a few minutes (500 degrees). Turn off the end burners (or use indirect placement over charcoal). Let it crisp up, and let the cheese melt. Some pepper ground over it. Arugula put on after removal from the grill.

Excellent meal on a very pleasant evening. We took it outside on the patio to enjoy the view. Leaves are getting close to peak around here.


Great al fresco dinner.


Final Fall Clean Up

We are in the home stretch of cleaning up the yard, the garden and the trees. Once all this work is done, we have a four month respite from outdoor work, other than cleaning up after any snowmageddon. Here’s hoping we don’t see any more winters like 2010.

We spend time now doing preventive maintenance so we don’t have problems if we get ice or snow, or both. That picture above was from before we replaced our roof and put in wider gutters to handle the runoff. We were lucky we didn’t have leaks, but we do try and fix things before they become an issue.

This year the derecho in June did more damage to our trees than we originally could tell. Now that all the leaves have fallen, we see evidence of major tree limbs suspended above and hanging onto other trees south of our house. Those limbs could weigh down with ice and snow, and take out trees threatening the south side, and the heat pumps. We have to decide how to safely get them out, and we need to crown clean our huge maples and oaks, to keep them from losing any more branches.

During the ice storm a few years back, we lost quite a few of our conifers. They couldn’t handle the weight of the wet heavy snow. Our trees provide us shade, privacy and are a noise block from the distant highway. Taking care of them is a priority.

Walking around I found many dead branches caught in other trees. They need to come out. I also saw many trees leaning over from the sustained winds of the storms last year and this year. We went through two hurricanes, a tropical storm and a derecho in a fourteen month period, from August 2011 until October 2012. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Those three branches are just hanging on the other trees, no longer attached to anything. We have at least four places where this occurred. Plus, there is a huge dead limb up in my bird feeder tree, my maple. One of the two that cracked during the derecho came down, but this one didn’t.

The trees that shade our home, and provide nesting areas for the birds, and allow us the privacy on our patio are a very important part of our property. That little bit of attention, pruning, crown cleaning, fertilizing and caring for them, keeps them healthy. We will spend some time this week and next getting them ready for winter. After all, they are worth the effort.

Day Trippin’

One of the pleasures of retirement. Going places during the week. Today, though, being Black Friday, it seems everyone took the holiday or didn’t have to work. That’s why we decided to head off down the back roads and have lunch at Linden, with a visit to Glen Manor as well.

We decided that heading down an old alternate route through the scenic byways was a perfect way to spend time. We hadn’t been on Blueridge Mountain Road past FEMA’s Emergency Operations Center since the GPS years ago took us on that road.

At 1800 on top the mountain it gets pretty windy and the road can be quite treacherous. But, once the leaves fall, like now, the views can be tremendous. We remembered those views and enjoyed the vistas down into the Shenandoah Valley while carefully negotiating the twists and turns, back down to US 50. If you want to see a map of how crazy the roads are, here is a bike loop that shows on the left the route we took.

We then took the scenic route down Leeds Manor Lane, seeing all the hunters parked along the road to the state wildlife management areas. Passed one of the many crossings of the Appalachian Trail which follows the mountain ridge in the same general direction we took to get to the wineries. We encountered a few hardy bicyclists, climbing that second major hill on Leeds Manor, one walking his bike up it, two resting at the summit, and a straggler far behind. These are hidden gems of scenic routes, for drivers and cyclists.

This AT crossing is right near the Avenius vineyards, which contain plantings used to make one of the single vineyard designations for Linden. You can park just up from the crossing and hike up to look across the ridge. One day, when we decide we are adventurous, we will climb that trail to take photos from the top. We went to Linden first, to sit and enjoy a bottle of Chardonnay with some local cheeses and one of their crusty warm baguettes.

2009 Linden Avenius Chardonnay

They are already all decorated for the holidays and the winter arrangement of the screen porch has replaced the extra tables and chairs out there the other seasons. This is one of my favorite places to sit when it is cold, to savor the fire in the wood stove and take in the view.

When we arrived at noon, there were about 10 of us in the winery. By the time we left the lot was full and they were two deep at the tasting set ups. Obviously lots of people decided wine tasting was way better than shopping malls on Black Friday. The deck and porch were empty when we arrived, but hopping when we walked out. The Christmas decorations are really beautiful. This is a great place to visit.

After our stop there, we headed into Front Royal to our original destination today, Glen Manor. We haven’t been there since April, and we wanted to pick up some Sauvignon Blanc. We tasted some other new releases, their Vin Rouge and Cabernet Franc. Since our last visit, they have added an extension to the building to increase working space. It is still lovely as always, and there were people out on the patio while we went through a tasting.

This is one stellar site to sit and absorb the beauty of the Shenandoah while drinking a glass of some of Virginia’s best wines. Even though the trees are mostly bare, the surroundings are bursting with fall foliage at the ground level.

No wonder we keep returning to these hidden gems in Virginia. Brought home a few white wines as well. What better gifts for Christmas from a locavore and locapour than dessert wines from Linden and Glen Manor. They both are offering a Late Harvest Petite Manseng. They will make someone very happy you bought them these lovely wines as a gift.

Shirt Sleeve Weather

aka Indian Summer

This weekend and today certainly have been those types of days. The high today is supposed to hit 70 degrees. It was a beautiful morning. The maple finally peaked, and I had to record it before the rains come tomorrow and bring down most of the leaves. It is amazing how it turns from green to yellow to red within the span of a week.

the maple today

This morning it was just spectacular, as seen from the driveway coming into the property. And below, this is the closer look from last Tuesday, as it was just really beginning to change.

the maple beginning to turn

We finally got the garage doors cleaned. We were out there in jeans and T shirts. Can not believe how nice it has been.

no more dirt and grime left from Sandy

With how nice it was, we considered lunch outdoors. After all, the patio was sunny and we were repositioning the furniture back where it belongs and returning the place to its pre-storm condition. We could not believe how much trash and junk was blown under and around all the plant beds, but now it is cleaned up. Finally. The bird feeders are all hung. The branches and most of the leaves cleaned up. The only thing left is cutting back the spirea and the spice bush, once we have a few more freeze warnings and they all lose their leaves.

I made us salads using CSA veggies, and we wandered outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun. The salads include one of my favorite ways to serve chicken and swiss. Getting one thick slice of each at Boarman’s. This time I got some honey BBQ chicken breast. Cut it in cubes and serve on top of greens with an apple diced on top.

chef’s salad, my way

Loving the Hakurei turnips and the French breakfast radishes on this salad. Can’t wait to see what goodies the CSA brings this week.


A Snow Sky

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After a lovely day yesterday, today we wake to a prediction of snow. Don’t know how much, but whatever we get, it won’t hang around long if the temperatures rise to the 50s and 60s like they are supposed to reach over the weekend.

I gave the ornamental grasses their fall pruning. I have one left to do. Otherwise, they blow all over the property. We also did a massive leaf cleanup during the lovely weather yesterday. The piles sit waiting for our rake and take compost partner to pick up in her truck sometime soon. She hauled away almost this much yesterday. At least our leaves are turning into compost for gardens. Some of it here. Some of it just down the road from us, at our partner’s home.

If you live out here in west county, and don’t get yard waste removal, like us, consider partnering with the county rake and take program to turn your leaves into compost. Our partner has lots of conifers, but not the deciduous trees needed for that brown component for compost. The yard is getting bare of leaves, with the exception of our maple, which is just turning now.

Besides the leaves and the sky, today I found new residents feasting on the suet. It has been a while since we have seen the red breasted nuthatches. Two of them have been here lately, and one was on the far side of the suet while I was taking leaf pictures. The other, in the tree above, was a little harder to photograph.

red breasted nuthatch

Did you know that the nuthatches are the only birds that can travel head first down the side of a tree? This picture is a little blurry, but you get the action.

Now that I have had a coffee break, and downloaded the morning pictures, it’s time to get back out there and cut back the last of the ornamental grasses. I left the largest one for last. But still, all in all, spending the day outdoors enjoying the fall foliage left on the property, is one of the simple pleasures of living out here.

Here’s to the weekend looking as lovely as yesterday. If you get the chance, head outside this weekend to an outdoor event, or to one of the markets. Here’s the Ellicott City calendar.


Leaf Peeping and A Winery Visit

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In the Shenandoah. Near the Appalachian Trail. The leaves are in full color these days. A good weekend to enjoy them. We had a date to meet a fellow radio amateur to pick up a crank up tower. He lives near Manassas. I don’t need an excuse to head west on I-66 and find some fall color.

the view from Linden

And, of course, add some chardonnay and rosé to our cellar. I like to get rosé to take to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. He cooks. I bring wine. Nice arrangement we have. The day started out a little dreary but got better as we drove west. I love sitting in the enclosed sun room and taking in the views.

Have a little cheese and sausage, with a Hardscrabble Chardonnay. Believe it or not, it does well with the sausage. The cheeses and sausage are local VA made. And, the 2009 Hardscrabble is a huge chardonnay. The type you want to put away for a few years. It will only get better.

The vineyard itself was lovely, as the grape vines are turning color as well as the trees and shrubs. The parking lot was full, so we were down in the overflow. Lots of leaf peepers out. Everyone was pouring wine today, including Jim and Shari. Haven’t seen Shari since the barrel tasting so it was nice to visit today. I bet the coming weekends are going to be crazy with the weather prediction of sunny and 70s. We did check out some of the grapes near the winery. Still a few clusters hanging. I know the late harvest grapes are still out there. The rest have been harvested.

We took the back roads home. Loving the views along the way.

leaving Linden

somewhere near Rectortown

Trying to identify what this is — have not seen it before. Off to check out my naturalist books.

Unidentified plants, all along the edge of a property near Purcellville

All in all a great day. Oh, and the second time near Atoka where an eagle flew over us. As usual, too fast for me to grab the camera, but that white head is so distinct. If you have time this weekend head west and check out the foliage. Even better, check out a winery. Grape vines are beautiful in the fall.

Hey, Breaux!

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Or, should I say Hey, Bro?

We needed to go to Harper’s Ferry today to get the last piece of my husband’s tower sections. With it, he will have all the necessary parts to put up his radio tower. He just needs the antenna(s) now. Pieces and parts all over the place. But, getting closer to pouring concrete.

I went along for the ride only on the condition I could stop at Breaux and pick up our cellar club allocations. The last time we were there, was in March. I blogged about how pretty the winery is, and how we took local cheese to have lunch there. The scenery is still wonderful. Definitely early for fall foliage, as the Blue Ridge mountains are still very blue.

view of the mountains from the terrace at Breaux

And, wouldn’t you know it? They sell ajvar. Never heard of it a year ago. Now, I am finding it everywhere. This version is garlicky and goes very well with the Rose.

The nice thing about Breaux is the fact that they are open every day. Not just weekends. For us, that is a benefit. Go there during the week and there are no limos, crowds, lines. They sell baguettes, cheeses, olives, spreads and cured meats like salami and prosciutto.

If you want something else to do this month (as if there isn’t enough going on around here), they have a harvest celebration next weekend (13th) and a farm tour the following weekend, the 20th and 21st. Trick or Treat the last weekend of October. They are only 50 miles west of Columbia, just south of Harper’s Ferry.

The red grapes are being harvested right now. It is perfect weather to sit out and enjoy the scenery.