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No Bones About It

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Bare Bones, that is. A local restaurant that hosted the blogging community and what seemed like a boatload of politicians from our county.

There were over 100 people at the popular “ribs” bar on Monday night. An opportunity to schmooze. Catch up with old friends. Meet people running in our next election in 2018.

Scott Ewart and Bill Woodcock hosted the event. They found sponsors that helped make the night special. A big thanks to Performance Tinting, who brought goodies to share, and who conducted a raffle of baskets with many of their auto-related products offered at their business. We use them to detail our cars. They did an amazing job on our pickup truck, getting those fabric seats beautiful and stain free. To support them, we bought a few raffle tickets, and then, surprise, we won the big basket. All sort of cute little items including some potential Christmas stocking stuffers.

Thanks to those who made the night out so special. And, I have to say, they still have some of the best BBQ ribs. We stopped visiting after an hour and sat down to indulge.

The Monday night special. A rack of spare ribs. Two sides. I picked their butter beans and corn fritters. Brought home half that rack, which became dinner the next night, along with my better half’s leftovers. Not a bad deal for $18.99.

Bare Bones also has their own beers. We enjoyed a pint while talking to some of the long time bloggers.

Eat In or Carry Out. Really good ribs. Trust me.

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.

Five Years Old

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I made it to five years writing this blog. On November 2nd 2011, I opened a WordPress account and started writing. Somehow I have gone from a handful of readers to over 500 followers. Amazing to me that I continue to find topics that interest me, while plodding along in retirement. Keeping busy. Still dedicated to eating well, volunteering, gardening, and not quite as dedicated to remembering to write about it all.

My second post. About my fall CSA. Which just began again yesterday. I have continued my commitment to eating from small farms, local and regional, as much as I can.

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This fall I expanded my options to include flour and grain. I hope to bake more than I used to do. I do know that the flour will find its way into holiday baking, and that cornmeal just inspires me to make polenta more often than I did.

As for new exotic things to discover, we found a Thai Kang Kob squash in our box. I just made squash lasagna from the triamble squash from a few weeks back.

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It was a good dinner last night for us, and leftovers will feed my better half while I am out with the local bloggers checking out The Turn House, a new restaurant that took over the space in the Hobbits Glen Golf Course.

Both the squash recipe and a report on the blogger party will follow in a few days.

I also need to write about the construction at the Conservancy, and about two great events in the next week.

There is much happening around here. Definitely enough topics to continue my blogging. Think I can keep this thing going until it’s ten years old. Let’s see.

Anyway, I will be seeing the locals tonight in Columbia. Can’t wait to try out a new farm to table option, with a locally raised chef.

Come Monday

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Peace and quiet. No alarm clock. For the first Monday in about six weeks we haven’t had to set an alarm and wake up ready to go with painters, carpenters, plumbers, electricians or other subcontractors.

I realized that six years ago today I set an alarm and got up to go to my last week of work before retiring. My last Monday wake up, for the commute and the stress. Most of the time now, we get up when the sun wakes us. Being on a schedule was almost alien.

I look back on these six years. People told me, you will get bored. You will want to go back to work, if only for the social aspect of it. Interestingly, we have found our social circles in fellow retirees who are active in our hobbies.

Gardening. Ham radio. Volunteering. Cooking and baking. Blogging. Day trips. Wine tastings. We haven’t lacked for things to do.

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What have we done? In 2010, I went through naturalist training and started leading field trips at the Conservancy. I signed up to take the Howard Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment and became part of that community of “senior” volunteers.

I joined my first CSA in 2011, and became very interested in changing what we ate, and how we cooked it.

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In 2012, after surgery, I got back into my garden, and my kitchen, and slowly recovered from spinal fusion. It took a while but now I hardly remember the long road back.

We do so many things with the local amateur radio clubs. Dinners, contests, lunches, picnics, field day weekend.

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In 2013, I became even more active in giving programs at the Conservancy. I got into preserving foods, and totally changing what came into this house. Eliminating most heavily preserved and processed packaged foods.

We have tackled some major renovations here. Making the house a more energy efficient and “senior friendly” place to live.

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We put up a radio tower, no, two of them.

So, I have to say it hasn’t been boring. I have never even once considered working again. Don’t have time for it. On April 1st, I will raise a toast to commemorate that last day of working. And the beginning of my journey, which thankfully almost never needs alarm clocks.

More Carrots

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Every time my CSA gives us another batch of carrots in the winter, I think of Hocoblogs and Jessie.

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Why? Because that is the name of the Burning Man camp where Jessie is the “mom”, who feeds and nurtures them. Like she nurtures the hundreds of bloggers from our county who are members of the Hocoblogs community.

I am reminded again of our community when it is announced that we are having another get together. The latest one crossing my inbox is the invite to the Horse Spirit Art Gallery in Ellicott City. We are lucky that we still have an old town Main Street around here. Where you can stroll and eat, wine and dine, find eclectic gifts, while supporting local businesses. A Friday night, 5-7, after which you can check out the local restaurants, pubs and wine bars.

Our last foray into old EC was also at a local gallery, StillLife. At that gathering, we met the owners of Horse Spirit, who were leasing space up at Westwood on Triadelphia (my neck of Howard County).

I am looking forward to attending the April 15th event. Hopefully, I will have gotten my taxes done. Now that I have a bright clean new foyer, I am looking to add a locally inspired piece to it.

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I wonder if there’s a still life of carrots?

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The Counter

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At the Columbia Whole Foods. Diner not in the classic sense, but still a place with really interesting and satisfying diner food.

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Fries anyone? How about chickpea fries with truffle salt?

We were lucky enough last night to attend a media event that kicked off the new menu at the Counter, the instore diner at our local Whole Foods. For me, finding places that aren’t chains, that showcase local, seasonal, organic and/or sustainable ingredients is a priority. Having this counter as a choice now when I’m in Columbia and need a quick delicious meal is exciting.

The thing I do like most about this diner option is the juxtaposition of healthier choices with some favorite comfort foods, and standbys that will tempt the omnivore, vegetarian, paleo, vegan, or gluten free person who may be looking to eat out together without compromising.

Like Southern food?

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Chicken with a biscuit and sausage gravy. This was one of my favorite dishes last night. Good for breakfast or lunch.

Nodding to a love of kielbasa, and making a breakfast sandwich my husband really liked.

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Their breakfast menu has all sorts of options. A scramble that uses tofu. Wheatless pancakes.

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We got to sample many of the items from both menus last night. My favorites were the chicken and gravy, and the burger made with a short rib blend, the cacioepepe, and that kielbasa sandwich. I have to admit there were two that weren’t my cup of tea, so to speak. The curry dish just a tad too spicy. The avocado taco. It was OK but just a bit bland to me. Weird, how my tastes are somewhere in the range of spicy but not too spicy.

I have to stop in and try some things that look good but we didn’t sample. Like the falafelsammie and the crabcake (not the vegan “crab” cake). As a Baltimore born and raised lover of crabs, I have to see how this version stacks up to my all time favorites.

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Thanks to Chef Michael and his team for putting out great tasting fresh food. Thanks too to Mia the marketing team leader who put together this event.

As one of the local bloggers whose focus is on small businesses, local foods, organic foods and eating seasonally, I am pleased to see how Whole Foods is becoming integrated into our community. Many of the farms where I purchase cheeses, meats, produce and a few of the small specialty businesses are featured here at Whole Foods.

Check out their Maryland food vendor page for a list of those who supply the Columbia store. Many of them are on my local resources list, and I am discovering new ones all the time like Koinonia and Homestead.

So, try out the Counter someday. Like maybe a Sunday where another local blogger, Bill Santos, has a weekly get together for coffee and conversation. One of those biscuits would be great while discussing the latest goings on in Columbia.

Maple Lawn Turkeys

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Now available for pick up at Whole Foods Columbia.

I have blogged many times about the locally raised turkeys that we order every year for Thanksgiving. From Maple Lawn Farm in Fulton MD.

Last night we had a tasting menu event at the new Whole Foods in Columbia. They announced that they have arranged to sell for in store pick up the same local turkeys we can get at the farm. This adds Whole Foods to the list that includes Boarmans and Roots in our local area.

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In fact, Whole Foods has all sorts of options from uncooked to oven ready to fully prepared feasts.

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Let’s just say we didn’t have to cook dinner last night.

I think my favorite of the evening though, was the dessert. I will probably be getting one of these to take to my family’s Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie on the bottom. Pumpkin mousse on top.

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From soup to nuts, and including some packages that are already cooked. For those who are pressed for time, or cooking area, or are wary of roasting a whole turkey themselves, Whole Foods joins other area restaurants and food stores in offering a complete meal, ready for reheating and serving.

This was our first time attending one of the Whole Foods tastings. I liked quite a few of the dishes, particularly the cream of mushroom soup, the cranberry orange relish, and of course, that pie.

For those living in the area, a new option to make Thanksgiving a little easier.

But, for those who know me, I will be cooking that Maple Lawn farm turkey with my favorite sausage dressing (thanks to Boarmans for their sausage). I will be using Whole Foods for their stuffing cubes, brining kit and nuts from their bulk selections.

Thanks to Mia, Katie and Chef Patrick for hosting the Howard County Food Bloggers yesterday.

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