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Tag Archives: grilling

The 2018 Spargel Season

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The first asparagus in my garden this year were recorded 26 days later than a year ago. This cold wet spring is doing a number on the growth and readiness of our favorite spring “heralders”. I picked a half dozen spears on the morning of the 26th, and saw about a dozen that I should be able to harvest tomorrow morning. Contrast 2018 to 2016, where we also had a late spring.  The numbers were closer to what we are seeing now.

But, I still had 27 spears by the 26th then. I had a whopping 54 in 2017 by this date. I keep records of my garden, just like most farmers do for their crops. Bud break, first harvest, length of harvest, total numbers, total weight, etc.

I still only have a few annuals in the ground. My perennials, like the rhubarb and the herbs, are slowly awakening.

Spargel season is fleeting. White asparagus is a special treat in the spring, and we had our first ones at Lupa last week. Lupa is a new restaurant in downtown Columbia. Owned by the same people, Tony Foreman and Chef Cindy Wolf, that gave us restaurants in Baltimore, and replacing Petit Louis Bistro on the lakefront.

We shall see if Italian fare does better in that location than the former French bistro. We were impressed with the freshly made pastas, including the fettucine with spargel and mushrooms that I had for my dinner. They also featured a white asparagus salad that I had been tempted to try, but I ended up enjoying perfectly executed calamari as a first course. For pizza lovers, there is also a white asparagus pizza on the spring menu.

I like Lupa, with its reasonably priced courses. My husband’s gnocchi were delicious, as we brought home a small amount of leftover pastas which graced our dinner table on Wednesday. We will try and visit the gelateria when the warm weather finally arrives. Having that little area off the dining room become a place to enjoy homemade gelato and sorbet in the summer is another nice addition to the dining options on the lake.

Where else have you seen asparagus featured? Do you like to cook with asparagus? Are you waiting for them to arrive in our local farmer’s markets, and at Jenny’s Market? Jenny’s is supposed to open later this week, and I can’t wait. My go-to right up the road food stand. Where I run to when I need one extra ingredient missing, as I am cooking. I always seem to run out of scallions, or onions, or citrus, and I love that they aren’t 7 miles away. For six months of the year, Jenny’s helps us stay sane with her great selection. She has promised that there will be asparagus when she opens, for those who love cooking seasonally.

Some of my favorites with spargel?

A simple mixed grill. Whatever looks freshest, brushed with oil, seasoned lightly, and served with something easy like kebabs, fish, or steak.

Maybe a frittata. Chopped asparagus, added to the egg mix, with herbs and greens.

Pasta primavera. My favorite pairing is peas and asparagus, with flavors enhanced with sautéed spring onions.

I have to admit, I have been really looking forward to retiring all those root vegetables from my diet, and getting into spring cooking.


Simple Indulgences

Just in time for Valentine’s Day. A compilation of some of our latest simple meals. Made with high quality local items and consisting of less than six ingredients (not counting salt and pepper).

I will be cooking at home again tomorrow to avoid the overcrowded restaurants. It will be simple also.

You can easily make these at home.

I did parsnip fries the other day. I loved them so much we will be making them tomorrow again.


Baked in a 400 degree oven. Just cut the parsnips, lay them on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary. Mix them before putting in the oven. Roast for about 12 minutes. Put them on a paper towel to drain. We had them with a yogurt based dressing for dipping.

I will be making halibut, maybe on the grill like I did these a while back.


The weather here is going to be close to 50 degrees tomorrow. It’s time to check out the grill and move things back outdoors, as spring isn’t that far away. This grill method is very easy. Minimal seasoning. Brushed with oil. I used some of my pesto cubes from the freezer for this meal, but you can always buy a small jar of good pesto. Or, just whirl some parsley or basil in the processor with olive oil, salt and pepper.

We will have assorted cheeses from my CSA, and do another of our comparison wine flights, like we did here with two local Sauvignon Blancs. These were from Virginia. Glen Manor is made in a New Zealand style. It has that pineapple-y citrus-y taste. It goes well with seafood, and with omelets, and of course, with cheese. The Linden Avenius, made more in a French style, flinty and with a bit more acid on the finish. We served these wines with a mushroom omelet. And with an aged Gruyere cheese.


Tomorrow, I am thinking of serving two Viogniers for comparison. More on our final decisions when I post again, after Valentine’s Day.

You may want to try a simple meal at home, instead of going out. Take your time. Dine by candlelight. Make something with just a few ingredients.

Thirty Five Years

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Give or take an hour.

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A significant anniversary. Living through those vow-y things. Like sickness and health. And loss of loved ones. Job changes. Uncertainties. Good times. Laughter. Tears.

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Standing up there not knowing what life will bring. Operating on love and faith. It does amaze me that we beat those odds. About eight years ago at a Christmas work dinner/dance, at 28 years, we were one of the last couples dancing. We could call it luck. We could call it dedication. We could call it hard work. Or a bit of all of it.

We’re not doing much for this one. We did the big splurge at 25. The fancy inn. The gourmet meal.

We just hit the county fair to see if I won any ribbons (more on that tomorrow). We will be grilling shrimp and petite filets. Opening an old Chateau Montelena we won at a charity auction years ago.

We certainly aren’t party people anymore, are we? Maybe tomorrow, the 36th anniversary of our first date, we will raise a toast at the beer garden.

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The Protein and Dairy Bag

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Next up on the #buylocalchallenge front. Meat. Seafood. Dairy. Eggs.

All readily available here, with just a little searching. Or, by subscribing to the weekly bag from Friends and Farms.

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I get the weekly bag during the summer and fall, when I like to get much of my produce from the Community Supported Agriculture source I have used for years. I also have the garden, and I like to buy fruit from the farmer’s markets. I did customize my bag to include produce instead of the half gallon of milk a week.

The eggs are from Miller Farm in Clinton MD. The chicken is Locust Point in Elkton MD. The other meat items we get are from an independent butcher in PA. He buys from surrounding farms.

Besides using a service like this, there are many other ways to find fresh protein items in Maryland. On my Local Resources page you can find many of the ones I like. I have meat, dairy, and cheese categories on the page.

As for seafood, a wee bit more difficult, but not impossible. The seafood market in Jessup (Wild Seafood) always has something from the Bay, just not necessarily the Maryland portion of the Bay.

Whatever way you find to add some local flavor to your meals will reward you with fresh home “grown” tastes. I have not missed those grocery store packages at all. Sometime during the challenge taste the local offerings at your nearest farm to table restaurant. Many of them have local beef, lamb and pork.

When you get hooked on the taste, you can find a source that works for you.

BBQ ribs with grilled squash and potato salad

BBQ ribs with grilled squash and potato salad

Like I did in last year’s challenge.

The Bird …

… the whole bird, and nothing but the bird.

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This week’s Freedom Ranger chicken delivered with my CSA pick up. We have been getting whole birds about every three weeks. It is an add on, and a very welcome one, to our vegetable deliveries from Lancaster Farm Fresh.

My freezer now contains only free range chicken, from either LFFC, or Friends and Farms, or England Acres. They may cost more than grocery store chicken, but to me, they taste so much better. I just have learned to eat less at a meal, and the increased cost is leveled out.

Besides our chicken, this past week we got the makings for some soup, now that the weather might actually cool down.

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I could do a chicken corn chowder using the corn and the cauliflower. I could do traditional soup, with those carrots and onions. I could roast the chicken like I did here.

The red peppers, along with the two from Friends and Farms, were charred over the grill this morning. Put together with some garlic, eggplant, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, they became my favorite dip for veggies or pita.

Tomatoes, being served tonight with mozzarella and basil.

Our fruit share this week was also a nice surprise.

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Bartlett pears, Jonamac apples, and nectarines. It really is getting late in the season, and we are loving the change in fruit and vegetables.

Grill From the Garden

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Tonight’s dinner brought to us by the ripening cucumbers and zucchini in the garden.

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I picked three cucumbers this morning and two baby zucchini. Along with my first tomato, some dill, and a pound of kale and rainbow chard.

Cucumbers. Dill. What does that mean?

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Tzatziki. A plop of plain yogurt. One diced cucumber. Teaspoon of fresh dill. Squeeze of lemon. Salt. Pepper.

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All without hitting a grocery store. The lemons came from Jenny’s market, as did a few other things I am using for salads this week. And the potatoes.

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I put some teeny potatoes in the grill with my CSA asparagus and the zucchini from the garden. Great side dish.

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Made a couple kofta. One pound of England Acres lamb. Handful of scallions from the garden. Garam masala, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Olive oil. Perfect with tzatziki.

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Great with a pinot noir. And a homemade dessert.

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Strawberry rhubarb crumble. Compliments of Smitten Kitchen.

I think this was a win in the “eat local” column.


Springtime Recipe Inspiration

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I haven’t done a recipe round up in a while. With the explosion of late spring vegetables, I think I should gather together all my links to the dishes, desserts, salads, suggestions, etc. that I continue to mention in my CSA posts.

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Like my garlic scape pesto. Here in the middle of the very fleeting garlic scape season. The simplest version combines a cup of scapes (cut in small pieces), a half cup freshly processed Parmesan, a half cup toasted pine nuts, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Put fresh Parmesan cut in chunks into food processor. Pulverize. Add scapes, mix. Add pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle oil in until you get the creaminess you want.

As for other things to do with scapes, grill them. Lightly oil them. Put on a really hot grill and keep turning them so they don’t burn. Season with salt and pepper before serving. They melt in your mouth.

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Asparagus. Like the wild ones growing in my yard. They will turn green when you move the mulch. I like a simple dry grill method. Put in a basket. Dry grill for a few minutes. Just before taking them off the grill, brush olive oil on them and light salt and pepper them. Once on the table, shave Parmesan on them.

I also blanch them, then cut in small pieces. Make a simple egg/milk/herb/S&P mix and put into large non stick oven proof pan, lightly oiled. Once it begins to set up, dump the blanched asparagus on top, pick any grated cheese and put it on top and finish in the oven on 350 degrees.

I also put those blanched pieces mixed with any pasta, and a healthy spoonful of any pesto on top. Finish again with cheese.

Am I in a Parmesan rut or what?

Let’s move to strawberries and rhubarb.

Already wrote about that barbecue sauce.

I’ve made sweet desserts like crisps and crumbles, but can’t find all the recipes for them. The Food Network one was used at least once.

Kale. Chard. Greens. Nothing really fancy but lots of inspiration out there.

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Kale chips are fun. Mess around with your favorite spices.

Also, that night I made one of my famous frittatas. Anything with that egg mixture, can be one light fresh seasonal awesome feast.

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I suppose what I am saying here is this. Whatever is the freshest stuff you can find. Bring it home. Lightly treat it. Lots of olive oil, a little salt and pepper. My addiction to parmigiano reggiano.


It’s not yet corn, squash, zucchini or pepper season. Be patient and enjoy what has just been picked.


Fish On …

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… the grill.

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There is something about halibut. One of my favorite fish to grill. And we can’t go to Annapolis to visit family without stopping at Annapolis Seafood for something. It was a stop for shrimp but the halibut was calling my name.

The shrimp, also bought, was used today in a shrimp curry with Thai Spices Matsaman curry, fragrant with cumin and cardamom.

The halibut, grilled last night with some Friends and Farms vegetables.

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Asparagus and red potatoes.

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All seasoned with one of my pesto concoctions, defrosted from the freezer. This one was a mixed greens pesto, made last summer. Since it is almost garlic scape season, I need to finish off the last of the pesto containers from the basement freezer.

To complete that local flavor.

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Maryland chardonnay, from Big Cork.

Here’s to many more locally inspired and small business supplied dinners. It’s grilling season, big time.


Simply Spring: Onions

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A staple in my house. Year round. Those different colors, textures, and tastes. Spring onions.

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These onions are being harvested from my garden. To thin the white onions I planted a while back.

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I planted a set of 80 white onions. I know I don’t want 80 onions in August, so thinning them out in the early weeks, harvesting those spring onions, will leave me with a manageable amount of onions to cure.

I use a very large amount of spring onions in my cooking. In my salads. My soups. Stir fries. Frittatas. I buy them when I don’t get them in CSA baskets.

This week, besides what I harvest, I am getting them from Friends and Farms, and in my first Lancaster Farm Fresh basket. This is one item that I know will get used quickly.

I just never thought until I started gardening, about all the items we get from the process of growing vegetables.

Like the onions, spring is the season for microgreens. Thinning out those greens.

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Like my kale and chard. And the arugula out on my deck. Those little gems pack lots of flavor. They don’t go to waste.

Garlic scapes. Spring garlic. Pea shoots. I am now a firm believer in putting everything edible to a good use.

So, here’s to spring onions. I think I will let them shine this weekend. Grill them. Make them a star of a dish. Instead of a supporting player.


The End of the Venison

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Finally, roughly a year after getting a few dozen packages of venison, courtesy of our neighbor, we grilled the last package. Tenderloin chops.

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Served with naan, bread cheese and a very tasty strawberry sauce, made using some of our IQF (individual quick frozen) strawberries from Friends and Farms.

This dinner was a mix of old and new, near and far.

And, thanks to Iron Bridge we had one absolutely perfect wine to drink with it.

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Isabel Mondavi Deep Rose, made with Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. I have to admit. I really like this wine, even thought it is big, bold and must be served with food, unlike many rose wines.

I bought some Carr Valley bread cheese at Wegmans a few weeks back. Picked up some naan. A container that included roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes at the olive bar. All the makings of an easy to grill meal.

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The bread cheese reminds me of halloumi. That Greek cheese perfect for sautéing or grilling. Alongside the venison it was a good pairing for a fairly simple dinner.

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The venison was marinated in a mix of blended strawberries and red wine. With a few basic seasonings like salt and pepper and garlic powder. The biggest strawberries were set aside to heat up on the grill and use for garnish. Tricky to keep them from falling into the grill. But, I managed to only lose two.

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Venison tenderloin. Grilled until it is medium rare to medium. Served with strawberries. A fitting way to end the adventure of a freezer full of venison.

Final thoughts on venison. Love the roasts. The tenderloins. The ground venison. Not a fan of the steaks. If we get another opportunity to pay for processing and get more, I will maximize the ground meat, for chili. And only take the shoulder roasts, neck roasts and tenderloin. Glad we did this, to see how flavorful it can be, and how different it is, when compared to the fattiness of beef.