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Tag Archives: Howard County

Telling Tales

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Storytellers. A couple of dozen of them. A dozen at each of two very special evenings here in Howard County.

Did you know Columbia MD turns 50 years old this year? And, many of its long time residents are telling tales, so to speak, at the first of two events sponsored by the Howard County Conservancy, the Howard County Recreation and Parks Department, and the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration Inc.

You can register at the Conservancy website, for tickets to one or both of the storytelling events. And, for those wanting to learn how to better their skills at telling tales, either spoken or written, you can sign up for a day long workshop, too.

Last year was the second time the Conservancy sponsored a storytelling event. The first time for a workshop. The event was an overwhelming success. Standing room only. So, for those of us who love to hear all about the past from our friends and neighbors, signing up early is the way to get a seat.

Life Skills

AKA Home Ec. Shop. Personal Finance. You know. The stuff we really should add to the high school curricula. Are we really preparing children for life, or just to get into the top colleges?

Julia wrote about VoTech in her post today. It triggered a response internally from me. Based on watching and reading and just wondering about how well we really are preparing children to survive when they go out on their own. Can they make a simple meal? Can they fix anything? Can they pay attention to their bank balances and adjust their spending?

We had life skill classes when I taught high school in the 70s. They seem to have disappeared.

We also have a shortage of skilled tradespeople where we live. We seem to push everyone into the college prep option and forget about those skills necessary to support our county. Those trades pay well. Better maybe than going to college and majoring in an area that won’t guarantee a high paying job. We need to allow children around here to choose their passion, and to follow it.

Artisans built our deck. For much more per hour than some of the degreed folks around here are making.

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Food for thought, so to speak.

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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The New Farm Store in Town

Did you all know that Breezy Willow opened a farm store in Ellicott City? Amidst all the fanfare of the downtown re-opening, it was somewhat low key, but at least I got some shopping done at a small business without having to hike a mile after finding a parking place. I figure I can get to Old Town any day of the week, without the crowds.

What did I find there?

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All sort of goodies. Locally produced, for the most part.

The store, is in the right hand side of the big old house on the corner of St. John’s Lane and Frederick Rd.

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Next to Southern States, and across the road from Rita’s Ice.

They had music on Saturday, and Zeke’s was handing out free samples of their coffee. Everyone who stopped by got to take home a free bunch of broccoli.

I didn’t take the camera inside yet. They were still arranging items around the store.

This is a welcome addition for those who are accustomed to buying out at the farm on Saturdays, and who live on the eastern side of the county. They have many more items here. Sun of Italy items are included in the pantry area, to help with menu planning. The meat freezers are self serve so you can pick the size you want.

My friend Nicole has her preserves on sale here. Neat Nick.

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I bought a jar of spiced cranberry jam and a fresh scone. Perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast.

And, they have Salazon chocolate. Salazon is made in Carroll County. These are the holiday offerings.

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Their sea salt and dark chocolate bars are the best dessert, with a glass of leftover red wine.

We will be getting eggs and meat here during the winter months, unless we are heading out to Lisbon on a Saturday when the store at the farm is open.

Another local small business that deserves our support. Check it out. Open Thursday through Sunday. 10-6.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Food Insecurity

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The harvest season is coming to an end. Those of us who work to provide fresh produce to our local food bank are taking out the last vegetables in the garden.

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This is the time of the year when we get slammed with greens, and not much else. The cabbages are winding down.

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Once you harvest a large head of cabbage, it tries to make more but you get mostly cabbage leaves. You can still harvest them, and make soup, but this is the beginning of the end.

We only have carrots, beets, collards, lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard left to harvest. Just about a month until we finish. Then, the fresh produce dwindles down at the Food Bank. In November and December many people donate, but those long months after the holidays are pretty grim. The gardens and local farms donate between the months of May and November. After that, it’s mostly canned goods.

I get an immense satisfaction in harvesting for our local food bank. They are about to move into much larger space, where they can process more fresh foods and hold them. That is good for the gardeners, the farmers and the local CSAs, like mine. Our site host wants to give more to the food bank but the limited storage and the limited days to accept non-perishables has hindered us in the past.

Every week when we drop off our community garden bags, we ask when they will be moving. Hopefully, it will be soon.

In the meantime, if you can, be sure to help by donating. Head over to the bulk stores and pick up some staples. Beans and canned proteins like tuna are always welcome.

Here’s the link to our local food bank. Take a few minutes and find yours.

Dennis Lane

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Traffic made me miss the dedication of Dennis Lane, a private road on Merriweather Post Pavilion Land, named in honor of one of the well loved members of the Columbia/Howard County blogging community. I was stuck on I-97 and then on 100, trying to get back on Wednesday afternoon. I did see that many, many people made it to the dedication. All the friends who loved to read Dennis’ writings about life in Columbia and Ellicott City. Or, who were family and friends.

Dennis was special to us. We miss his wit, wisdom and his way with words. Three plus years since we lost him. Tragically, but we lost him. Nice to know he will be remembered by the developing community of which he was a large part.

Dennis scooped the Whole Foods thing. In his blog. Which thankfully is still there for us to find and read about our home.

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Dennis just knew everyone. His love of Columbia and Ellicott City was obvious.

So, this year, when you head out to Symphony of Lights, which is back as a fundraiser for the hospital, see if you can find Dennis Lane as you drive around.

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It’s a brown sign. A privately maintained road. And, in the spirit of sharing trivial information about where we live, like Dennis was so good at doing, did you know, green signs are county roads, blue signs are Columbia (CPRA) roads, red signs are old town Historic District Ellicott City roads, and brown signs are private roads.