RSS Feed

Tag Archives: holidays

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.

csa-and-omelet-008

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.

grilling-and-ec-market-035

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.

csa-and-omelet-024

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.

Change is Hard

Posted on

First of all, Happy New Year! I have been fairly busy with the painting around here, and haven’t kept up the blog. At least I remembered to change the copyright notice date to the current year. Hopefully, I can remember to write the correct year on all these checks we keep writing.

As for the past, current and future, I admit, not sorry to see 2016 go away. To us, 2016 brought Medicare, Social Security and lots of other reminders of getting older. Like realization that bad weather is worse when you aren’t a spring chicken anymore. Last year’s blizzard and tornado proved to be problems for us. In minor ways, but still problems.

We learned that we had to change things. Make things more accessible. Eliminate possible accident sources. Update bathroom, kitchen and other interior spaces. All these things are disruptive. Sometimes I think even more so because we are retired and here most days. We didn’t get to run away to the office and come home to the chaos only at night. Or, have the luxury like those on-HGTV people who could stay elsewhere while their houses were under renovation. I understand why people resist doing renovations. It can literally stress you out to the point of wanting to give it up. Yes, the results are nice, but living in complete disarray gets to me.

Every item from my pantry is in bags and boxes on my family room floor. Cooking is difficult.

kitchen-001

kitchen-016

kitchen-024

Add to it, the sheer shock factor of going to a bright yellow.

kitchen-023

Let’s just say I really like it. My better half? He’s still adjusting to the major color change.

We at least had New Year’s Eve dinner even while working around it all. I have to say that this recipe is a keeper, and it was a simple meal served with an excellent bubbly.

nye-and-paint-003

nye-and-paint-011

nye-and-paint-016

Emeril Lagasse’s Oyster Stew. Recipe from online. Oysters from the Jessup Seafood Market. A side salad. Champagne savored from beginning of cooking through to a glass just before we gave up and crashed around 11:30. Yep, we couldn’t make it until midnight.

nye-and-paint-012

Here’s to a better brighter 2017! At least my kitchen will be bright and cheery.

A Very Merry

Holiday Season. Beginning and ending, and all those days between. By now, many friends and relatives have done the eating, drinking, giving, and receiving as they celebrate this weekend.

Here, I suppose I can say we are celebrating. All I wanted for Christmas was the decision, and planning, to tackle our biggest painting and updating project. Namely, my kitchen. The heart of our home. The place we spend the most time, and the room that made me want to buy this house a dozen years ago.

cookie central before

cookie central before


cookie central Friday

cookie central Friday

When I said that’s what I wanted for Christmas and my birthday, I didn’t mean it literally, but surprise, that’s how it is turning out. It seems that in order to have my favorite painter and carpenter doing our job, it was best to fit it between some major work that our general contractor has in 2017. And, of course, December and January are slow times in the construction and renovation business.

farewell, pot rack

farewell, pot rack

So, last Thursday it began. Stripping wallpaper borders. Tomorrow, and most of this week, dry wall repair, priming, and the earliest tasks. While waiting for the electrician to give me new (please non-humming) overhead lighting. Sometime later next week, ceiling painting, then final painting of all the walls.

the usual spot for the tree

the usual spot for the tree

This means that I am seriously not thinking straight. To tackle this during the holidays. That’s what I get, I suppose, for saying I don’t want presents anymore. I just want to finish all the laundry list of projects that still need to be done.

Crossing my fingers that the 30 year old stove continues to work, until I get myself ready to tackle that really large item on that list.

Everyone. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, etc. I may not have decorated much this year, but I did get the poinsettias.

kitchen-009

A Betty Crocker Christmas

Remember these?

img_0584

My first recipes. Back in 1975 when I moved to Columbia. I found the box up in the attic inside a moving carton, along with my husband’s recipe cards. His were McCall’s and bought when he first moved to Columbia in 1977 (he learned to cook from them, in his new townhouse before I met him).

img_0588

That budget casserole up in my cards? Made an appearance many nights for my two roommates and me. Just 1/2 pound of ground beef and one egg. Really cheap eats. Back when we couldn’t afford anything fancier.

I decided to pull out the cookie cards and make some of them for Christmas. Along with an old favorite. This one.

evermore-and-cookies-020

Which was on the menu tonight.

As for the cookies, check these out.

cookies-and-dinner-001

cookies-and-dinner-004

cookies-and-dinner-016

Shortbread. Crescents. Caramel-nut bars.

I still have spice cookies and toffee to make tomorrow, but this is a trip back in time. And, no, I didn’t succumb and use Crisco, even when the recipes called for it.

Any old memories being resurrected for your holiday?

evermore-and-cookies-021

I may be tempted to make that fudge too.

Talking Turkey

Small businesses. Worth more of our time and money than just tomorrow. I want to highlight individual businesses around here that deserve our support year round. One day doesn’t keep them in business. Solid customer loyalty does.

In November and December, Maple Lawn Farms does most of their business. Did you know they sell 20000 turkeys every year? 18000 of them for Thanksgiving and the rest for Christmas.

wine-and-turkey-009

Besides their fresh whole birds, they sell parts. The parts are the real bargain, for those of us who enjoy turkey as a healthy choice. We use turkey all year for dinners and lunches. Maple Lawn sells their wing packages and their drumstick packages for $6 each. You can make soup, hash, casseroles and crock pot meals using the meat from these packages, and put a great meal at a bargain price on your table.

They also sell ground turkey, turkey bacon and turkey sausage at the farm. You can stop in and buy it whenever the farm is open, or go online once they open the order forms again after December 5th. You can also email year round and ask what is still in the freezer to buy.

Believe me. This is the way to get a quality, relatively inexpensive option for good food. This year I put the drumsticks (two to a pack) away for future soups. Bought a bone in turkey breast (7 pounds) which also was frozen to guarantee I have the fixings for a turkey dinner, plus leftovers for casseroles, and maybe a turkey pot pie.

The Iager family has been a fixture in county history. Farming since 1839. Raising turkeys since 1938. There is no need to buy turkey anywhere else. If you want to support a local farm, this is a very good option.

snow-and-turkey-day-020

More in the next few posts about other local business choices. Shop local. Eat local. Drink local. Keep more money in our county.

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.

grilling-and-ec-market-010

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 Hurrier I Go …

… the behinder I get. Credit to Lewis Carroll.

When did Thanksgiving creep up on us? Ten days to go. Halfway through November already. Time just flies by, and nothing much is getting done on time.

big-cork-and-maple-lawn-029

I finally ordered my turkey. Went to pick out the wines I will take to the family get together. Did my own planning for when we will do our turkey. I am one of those who really loves the cooking and baking and coming together to share a traditional dinner, but in our family, Thanksgiving is my brother’s day to shine, so to speak, as the turkey maker and the central point of family and friends gathering.

This year, our little turkey (we order a 10-12 pound bird and pick it up from the farm on the Monday before the holiday). Less crowded, and I can brine it Tuesday and cook it Wednesday. For us, dinner where we open a really good Pinot Noir and share the best parts of the dark meat is our Thanksgiving at home. With totally non traditional side dishes. Things we like, maybe crispy Brussels sprouts, creamed parsnips and onions, or a leek casserole.

As usual, we are using a local farm, Maple Lawn, as the source for our turkey. Here, you have many options. Go to the farm and pick up the size bird you ordered. Instead of a whole bird, you want just the bone in turkey breast. Or, a smoked breast for serving up sliced and used for many sandwiches.

This year I did order the small turkey, and a new item for us, the bone in breast. I will also pick up a package of drumsticks for the freezer, to use for soups in the future. The bone in breast will be frozen to use later. I like going to the farm. The prices are great. $2.30 a pound for fresh turkey. $6 a pound for the bone in breast. Cash or check only.

You can also order from local stores, like Boarman’s, Whole Foods Columbia, and David’s Market. They tack on a surcharge, and yes, you can use plastic to pay for it. Still the same turkeys as we pick up directly.

If you want to find local turkeys where you live, you can use the marylandsbest web site and search. Other states have similar resources.

For us, too, we like to serve local wine with our dinners. I will be taking local white wines from Maryland to my family celebration, and we will be opening an Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir from Virginia at our little dinner. Our favorites for family meals are local dry rosé wines, maybe a Riesling, or this year, we are taking one sweeter wine for those who don’t share our passion for dry wines, a “Russian Kiss” from Big Cork. Made with grapes native to Russia.

big-cork-and-maple-lawn-008

We were up at Big Cork yesterday to pick up our quarterly wine club wines, and then, a great detour. One I tend to forget to make. If you want to add one local item to your dinner, think about ice cream.

South Mountain Creamery is on the Maryland Ice Cream Trail. And it is on the back way home from Big Cork. We got to watch the cows gather for their afternoon milking.

csa-big-cork-and-fall-foliage-036

I got some salted caramel ice cream to have for our Thanksgiving, along with some cheese, yogurt and I found a small beef brisket in the frozen meat case. I miss having South Mountain at our Glenwood market, but they stopped attending the market in favor of weekly deliveries of milk, cheese, meat and other items, door to door across our county.

As our largest supplier of the Thanksgiving food items, our CSA will deliver next Tuesday. Who knows what new items will become a side dish.

I need to end this post, and get things done. Or I will be even more “behinder” than I am now.

big-cork-and-maple-lawn-038

Memorial Day

Posted on

I can’t find my flag.

final tower 026

The one that we flew over the tower on 9/11 last fall. I know I folded it up and put it away in a plastic bag. So, this year no flag out there for the commemoration of Memorial Day.

I used to not get Memorial Day. How was it different from Veterans Day? Then, it hit close to home, when colleagues at the Pentagon were killed by the crashing plane. Now, it is so significant to me.

I don’t do Memorial Day Sales. Memorial Day picnics. I just reflect on what it means to have friends and relatives risk their lives, and sometimes lose them, in order for us to be free.

I think I need to find a smaller flag to hang out front. And, if I find that lost bag, to hang the large flag on the tower again.

To remind us that we are lucky to be free, because of the sacrifice of the brave.

Hoppy Easter

Posted on

As the Easter Egg hunts, and egg rolling events accumulate this weekend, we have yet to establish if there really was an egg laying hare, aka “Oschter Haws” as the Germans called it. You have to admit, for those of us scientifically inclined, it is mind boggling to contemplate bunnies laying eggs.

I did dye eggs this year. Kept some older ones around, to be used for display purposes, so I cheated and used the Paas dyes.

easter eggs 011

Brown eggs are always interesting to dye. And, the slightly speckled eggs come out very nice. I should have done the natural thing and made dyes from our red cabbage, or from the turmeric in my spice cabinet, but with all the painting and sanding and hammering this week, I was surviving in a corner of my kitchen.

They are done, more or less. Just some carpentry and plumbing to finish. I even got my grandmother’s china back into her cabinet in the dining room. Just in time to make the bone in ham from the CSA last week.

easter eggs 030

Traditions for the holidays? Do you have them? Are they ecofriendly and healthy, or are some of them bad for you but you do them anyway. One of ours is the ceremonial Peeps. Has to be just one small box. The other one, Rhebs Candy.

simple dinner 040

Who hasn’t been in that long line to pick up candy, up off Wilkens Avenue by St. Agnes Hospital. When we were young, my Dad brought the candy home from their stall in Lexington Market, which closed down in 2008. You can get the candies ordered online now and have them sent to you, but going into the store, smelling the chocolate, and picking out your own assortment was a real treat.

Well, I need to stop reminiscing and get a few things done for Easter. While putting the rooms back in order, hanging pictures and curtains, and finishing up from the six weeks spent making half the house look great.

Going for the Greens …

Posted on

… inspired by our CSA basket, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

csa and painting 015

That lacinato kale made me think once again of colcannon. So I decided to go looking for a truly Irish interpretation of the dish, one that I have made countless times and blogged about, almost as often.

I never knew about the Halloween connection, or the prizes inside. Amazing what we can find here on the internet, isn’t it?

But, getting back to the CSA basket, the kale and parsnips both made me think of making my version. I have to use the techniques from the web reference, as it hasn’t been the way I’ve finished mine.

As for the rest of my weekly Lancaster Farm Fresh delivery, picked up at my friend’s home near Robinson Nature Center, there were other real favorites this week.

csa and painting 013

Five of the seven vegetable items came from the LFFC “brand”, which is what they sell to restaurants, stores and buying groups, like Friends and Farms. Two of the items were attributed to individual farmers. We knew that in the winter we would be getting some of the vegetables bought through the cooperative, to supplement what is grown on the local farms year round. Let’s face it, with a CSA that tops out some years above 4000 members, you can’t always get the local farms to have enough every single week. Or, that the small farms can provide enough of one item, so some of our items have the LFFC tag on it, meaning it’s an aggregate of many of the farms’ provisions.

This week we got zucchini. Five absolutely lovely green zucchini. A joy to get them in the dead of winter, and we had been told that farms south of us were being used to supply some variety in our baskets. I have plans for those zucchini. My store in the freezer of zucchini fritters is gone. Done. Inhaled. I love the Smitten Kitchen recipe for zucchini fritters and make dozens of them in the summer, gently layered in parchment and placed in the freezer. We used our last ones a week ago.

I will be grating zucchini and making a nice replacement batch. I have to pick up some plain yogurt at Friends and Farms to make tzatziki in order to enjoy some this weekend.

As for those sweet potatoes on steroids. I have plans for them. They were in the swap box, and I just decided I was tired of beets and sunchoked out, so I put the bags of each of them into the box and brought home those two behemoths. I want to make hummus with one, and bread with the other. Never made sweet potato bread and since I am a prisoner in my house while work is being done (still not finished after four weeks), it’s a good time to try a new recipe.

As for the rest of my stuff yesterday, here are the bread and cheese.

csa and painting 009

And, the meat delivery of the week.

csa and painting 003

Yep, bison is back. Along with chicken thighs and bacon. Not what works for tomorrow, but welcome additions to my freezer.

As for tomorrow there will be sausage for dinner. With colcannon. Bread. Cheese. Guinness. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!