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Fifty is Nifty

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If you are a city, that is. Even though people think that 50 years is a long time, it certainly isn’t when it comes to cities. The place I lived the longest, Columbia MD, turns 50 this summer. The celebration started last weekend.

The storytelling event this Friday night at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center will feature many long time residents. Who may remember the tiny little town of the 1960s and 70s. When there were just two lane roads, and not all that many traffic signals.

It was an interesting place to live, but it certainly isn’t old, even now. Heck, I might have a pair of boots or two older than Columbia.

I grew up in Baltimore, in a house built in 1920. I considered it really old when it was only 50 years. Back when I started college. I couldn’t wait to graduate and move to the New Town. The one with the cool people tree.

And the even cooler downtown, that included a lake, instead of high rises and congestion.

I remember ice skating on that lake. Spreading blankets on the grass before the fireworks. Making reservations at The Tomato Palace, to have dinner and watch the fireworks (in the years after I made enough money to do that).

Still, it isn’t really old. Sitting out here with a next door neighbor in a renovated farmhouse that was built in 1894, I have a different perspective.

No matter what. It’s been my home county for 42 years. Columbia was the town I lived in for 30 years, so there are lots of memories.

You bet I will be enjoying the storytelling events. And many of the other events celebrating the occasion.

I think I’ve even gotten used to this no longer being the Rouse Building.

Mama Millie’s to the Rescue

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Some days you can’t possibly consider cooking.

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Monday night the kitchen ceiling looked like this. Tuesday it was way better, but still at 8:45 PM when the electricians left, I was in no mood to cook. So, I called Mama Millie’s.

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They are in “downtown” Glenelg, not far from us. Small. Locally owned. A pizza was a good idea. While cleaning up dry wall and other stuff.

Then, come Wednesday, ceiling repair and “mudding”. Another day with the kitchen covered in plastic.

This time I was tempted by the Stromboli.

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Trust me. The “small”. Could feed us for two days.

Today, we heated up leftovers.

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Originally, we had ordered a Stromboli and a baked ziti. Either one of them could make half a meal for us. Tonight, I reheated the ziti, and the rest of that Stromboli will be dinner tomorrow. I never opened the garlic bread last night, as two pieces came with the ziti order.

Over all, I spent $40 over two nights. Have at least four nights of dinners. They are fresh. They are seasoned well.

I could occasionally be tempted in the future to get Stromboli when I don’t want to cook. They are very good.

By the way, my husband first tried them while looking for a good Italian cold cut sub. Like he used to find in Pennsylvania at the local Italian deli. This one.

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You know, even as slow food and home cooked advocates, we sometimes take a break. My break? Has to use small businesses, and not chain food places.

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Mama Millies. Glenelg. Try them.

Creatures of Habit

If it’s Tuesday it must be food bank harvest. Except it’s December, and after seven months of Tuesday harvests, our season is over. It feels strange not having a standing date with a few friends and fellow gardeners. I have to find another way to fill those mornings.

I have been considering how to continue getting vegetables to the food bank through the winter. Our CSA ends for the fall season next week, and doesn’t start up again until mid-January. I thought I might work with my site host to get those swap box items that seem to accumulate in large amounts. It is interesting to see what doesn’t get taken every week.

Last week for example, three people didn’t take their apples. They were all “appled out”. I wonder how many massive butternut squashes weren’t picked up from the bulk bin yesterday. Every one of us got a massive squash, and all the large shares had a “bonus” item. Sweet onions.

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The two humongous onions alongside the regular ones on my counter.

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As for squash, we got another one of these. I have to say, even I can’t keep up with processing such a prolific harvest.

What’s the take away from this post? The decision to make a New Year’s resolution to find sourcing to give at least something to the food bank twice a month over the winter. I know there won’t be much in the way of fresh vegetables, but I should be able to put together some of my site host’s “leftovers” along with some simple staple items from the local stores. Or maybe find a way to volunteer some time to the main site, or the pantry sites.

I need to pop over to the food bank’s new distribution site and see what they will need after the holidays. When contributions fall off. After all, the need doesn’t disappear during the dark winter months.

Giving

It’s not just for Tuesday.

There are so many worthy causes that can use our help and our monetary support all year long. One “Hallmark holiday” day may be cute and trendy but the reality is this. The other 364 days of the year (OK, 365 this leap year) we can still make a difference.

Give time. Give money. Give publicity. Help in any way you can. Share a Facebook post from a nonprofit. Support an event at local charities and nonprofits.

Just recently I saw requests from places locally. Like:

How Girls Code
Howard County Conservancy
Howard County Community Action Council
Voices for Children

Today I realized I supported the food bank three times before 11AM. Once by pulling some items from my CSA share, to take up to our community food bank garden. Then, by harvesting collards and cabbage to add to my contribution. Then, at Harris Teeter, donating to give them money. It’s easy to do. It’s those little things that add up.

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It’s the season of giving. Find something that you believe in. Something that ignites a spark within you.

Every little contribution is worth it. I got hooked on food bank gardening years ago. It’s one of the most rewarding things this old lady can do. I can still harvest veggies.

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Filling the Freezer …

… and the fridge, and the pantry. Fall is the season where my nesting instincts kick in. Where I put away preparations to carry us through the winter. Where I stock up on seafood, meat, and in house processed stock items to cook over the winter.

Today’s CSA was one of those major contributors.

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Yeah, there’s a large amount of stuff here that will be cooked and put away. Soup fixings. Staples. Root vegetables (which last for a very long time). The Thanksgiving week delivery is always like that. Including the “extra” that every CSA member got this week.

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The behemoth butternut squash. This time. Nine pounds. The smallest I could find in the bulk bin at the pick up site. This baby will make a pie or two. Maybe some bread. Maybe a reprise of my really excellent squash lasagna.

Add to that, the Fresh Revolution has arrived. Rising from the ashes of Friends and Farms, a small group of dedicated locavores builds the new version of a cooperative food buying club. We started with turkeys last weekend and seafood today.

I got salmon, shrimp, smoked salmon and scallops. The scallops were so good, they were dinner tonight.

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Cooked in brown butter.

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Anyone interested in joining us can email and be added to our mailing list. Let me know in the comments and I will add the email. For Christmas they will be offering meat and seafood to add to your freezer.

Shopping Small

Tonight is Girl’s Night Out in old town Ellicott City. Here is the link to what you can find if you head out there between 5-9 pm. Many businesses have re-opened and are participating in the event.

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If you start at the Wine Bin and get your mason jar mug, you can sip the lemonade available at many of the shops.

This is just the first of many ways we can show continued support to small businesses. By shopping at the mom and pop stores, eating at the locally owned restaurants and using locally owned services.

The Turn House

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A new owner in an old space. Making it a locally sourced farm to table restaurant at a golf course. We had the pleasure of attending a local bloggers’ party there last night.

Many years ago (OK, a couple of decades ago) we hung out at Coho Grill every Friday night. We lived right up the road. A local bar with decent crab cakes. Passable salmon dinner. Nice drinks. Affordable wine. Then, in the early years of the new century we discovered Iron Bridge and abandoned Coho. Mainly because it was OK. Not great. Not that welcoming anymore for those who didn’t play golf.

I am happy to report that I really love the renovation. The expansion of outdoor space that magnifies the lovely view, particularly now that the foliage is peaking.

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We no longer have to dine in Howard County while checking out the parking lots or the storm management ponds (OK, yes, there are a few other places with great al fresco sites, but most are pretty dismal). This site has a large comfortable dining area overlooking the course. The good thing. The food is as good if not better than the view.

We tried a number of bites. Using many of the small plate elements. The tartare. The pork belly. The oysters. And more.

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For the bloggers, the small bites were complimentary. The cash bar had some specialty cocktails, a nice selection of craft beers and a good choice of a “house” pinot noir and chardonnay.

We had the opportunity to talk to the executive chef, Thomas Zipelli, a native Howard Countian. His family. This is a family owned business, who care about local sourcing. My kind of people.

We will be back. It’s a great addition to the dining scene. Not a chain. Definitely worth checking out.

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Check out their menu.