RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Linden Vineyards

Leaf Peeping Weekend

Posted on

This has been the best week when it comes to the fall colors around here. We headed out with friends for a leaf peeping trip through the back roads of VA.


I think most of the DC area also had the same idea. On our way through Front Royal the traffic was crazy. Skyline Drive was absolutely lovely above us as we sat outside at Glen Manor Vineyards.

we also took them to Linden to have some cheese, sausage and baguette while sipping some 2009 Avenius red.


The colors of the vines in the vineyard brought back memories of our trip years ago to Sonoma and Napa in November. Those same deep red vines.


All in all, we had one relaxing sunny afternoon. The clouds seemed to come and go, revealing shadows, highlights and patterns across the Shenandoah mountains.

Around here, we still have lots of leaves to come down. We can see some similar sights just up the road. We really need to head out for a lunch or maybe a picnic at Black Ankle. After all, it is just up the road west of us.

Or, we can hang out on the porch. Maryland is certainly showing our colors of fall.


Want to enjoy the colors on a leisurely hike. Come join us at the Conservancy Saturday morning to hike to the Patapsco River. More on that tomorrow.


Beans and Greens

Posted on

Until we joined a CSA three seasons ago, I would not have considered greens with beans and some sort of broth, with a little pork, to be the basis of so many meals.

I wandered back into my archives and found at least a half dozen versions of the beans and greens themes in them. Like this one.

The Tuscan soup version, with kale.

And, one of my first attempts from the freezer.

Much like this one I made today, but with tomatoes.

Today’s was a lighter variation.


I don’t even use recipes anymore. I just wing it. This one used all the mustard greens we got last week. The rest of the bok choy from a week ago. The turnip greens. I started it in the crock pot with carrots, celery, onion and the thicker white parts of the bok choy. A half pint of my chicken stock. A wee bit of bacon grease. I fried up a pound of bacon that I got at England Acres. It has been in three meals and there is still some in the fridge.

I added the greens, some bacon, two cans of butter beans, and two cups of almond milk, making this a non-dairy soup.

What you see in the finished soup are some Great Harvest croutons. As for flavor, I added salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, paprika and ground ginger. I also cut up and added an apple to give a hint of sweetness.

Just before serving, I ladled out about half of it, avoiding the bacon pieces, and blended it to give it that creaminess.

A very hearty soup. Served with a “competition” of Sauvignon Blancs. Linden versus Glen Manor. The 2011’s. We decided the Glen Manor complemented the soup better, although Linden was a much bigger bodied SB.


Here’s to the last week of our summer CSA. Looking forward to fall veggies. Glad that my experience motivated me to cook more with hearty greens.


Friday Night Un “chained”

Posted on

Breaking free of chain restaurants. Something we did when Iron Bridge opened, years after JK’s closed. For quite a while, we were in that chain restaurant limbo, meeting friends or just going out on Fridays after a long tiring work week. Nothing but the circuit of places like Macaroni Grill, TGIF, Outback, Carrabas, Bertucci’s, whatever.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in Columbia or Ellicott City ever cooks on Friday nights. There were nights with beepers for 60-90 minutes.

When we moved out here, we tried to break that cycle. We still headed to Iron Bridge early, or El Azteca.

These days, though, grilling at home has replaced eating out. This year, I have been working at making grilled flatbreads. Trying techniques. Experimenting with dough.

I think I found a winner in Harris Teeter’s pizza dough.

grilled flatbread 015

Ready to go on the grill. As for toppings, all sorts of CSA and home made goodies, and a few special items.

grilled flatbread 019

Top right. Tomato paste, mushrooms, olives and Italian seasonings. Below it, my homemade pesto and some goat cheese from Roots. The left pizza. All of the toppings including some roasted sweet peppers and my roasted garlic.

Seriously, this is one awesome flatbread.

grilled flatbread 038

Served with a Linden Rose wine. 2012. All told, less than half the cost of going out to dinner. Well worth it.

grilled flatbread 029


The Fall Wine Trip

Every few years we take a winery hopping trip somewhere in the US. We just came home from an extended weekend in Southwestern Virginia, where we visited three new wineries, one old favorite, and stopped today to break up our drive home, at Linden.

Fall wine trip 170

The new wineries. Early Mountain, Villa Appalachia and Valhalla. I will be writing individual posts about each visit. The old favorite, Barboursville. More on them later this week, too.

Fall wine trip 031

We now limit ourselves to two wineries a day, max, in order to enjoy the visits, and not feel like we are rushing from place to place. Lunch on a terrace, like the one at Early Mountain, for example.

We also have become selective about what we buy, as we now aren’t buying to age wine, but to sample a few interesting new varietals, or to pick up some for family functions.

Everyone who reads my blog know that I am a locavour. Most also know that I fully support the wineries in MD and VA, as they are becoming better, and a few are pushing the local industry into making very good wine. Wine that can stand up to the established vinicultural areas in the US, and even beyond.

We had debated driving to Long Island to sample their wines, but decided not to tempt fate. This time last year they were preparing for Hurricane Sandy. We didn’t want to make plans too far in advance, in case we were all hunkering down to protect ourselves in this QUOTE prolific UNQUOTE hurricane season. Obviously, the forecasts were off. We have seen a calmer year than any of the past couple of years.

We just figure that a trip to the North Fork will happen in a different season, like maybe spring or early summer.

So, we headed off to VA, spending one night outside of Charlottesville and one outside of Roanoke. Of course, both places were awash in football fans. I really need to plan trips around home games. At least UVA and VATech both won, making for happy fans during our travels.

We may have to drive a bit more than we did when visiting Napa and Sonoma, and when we went to the Finger Lakes a few years back, but we can find some real gems in the VA mountains.

Fall wine trip 121

I wish the weather had cooperated this weekend so we could have enjoyed the outdoors more, but all in all, a good trip. Now, I need to put away those wines we purchased.

They will be featured in some of my winter locavore dinners. Tomorrow, I will have a long review of Early Mountain, with many pictures we took there. It was a great beginning to the weekend.

Anyone living in the Mid Atlantic should consider putting together a short trip using the Blue Ridge Parkway, and/or Skyline Drive, down to the gorgeous mountains, for the views, the food, and the wine.

Fall wine trip 145


Whackin’ Back the Basil

Posted on

Every once in a while you need to go out there and harvest basil. Before it gets completely out of control.

pesto, pasta, sauvignon blanc, tomatoes 019

Today I harvested three cups of basil. Mostly African blue basil, with some Genovese and a little Thai basil in the mix. That meant a triple batch of pesto to be made.

First, toasting a cup of pine nuts. Over low heat. Watching them the whole time.

pesto, pasta, sauvignon blanc, tomatoes 040

The three cups of basil, cup of pine nuts, cup of cheese (I used Pecorino this time), six cloves of roasted garlic, all went into the food processor.

pesto, pasta, sauvignon blanc, tomatoes 049

Then, the olive oil drizzling, addition of salt and pepper, none of this measured, by the way, continued until I had the taste and consistency I wanted.

pesto, pasta, sauvignon blanc, tomatoes 061

This meant I ended up with three one cup containers of pesto. Two for the freezer, one in the refrigerator. My husband, of course, then wanted pesto pasta for dinner. Thankfully, there were bay scallops in the freezer, easy to defrost, and some dried artichoke pasta from The Common Market in the pantry.

The final dinner. Pesto pasta with sauteed bay scallops, scallions, and red pepper. A couple of sliced heirloom tomatoes from my garden and some mixed greens with feta. Oh, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

pesto, pasta, sauvignon blanc, tomatoes 106

As for the wine match, we decided to test two local Virginia Sauvignon Blancs against one another. Both from 2011. Linden Avenius versus Doukenie. The Doukenie did well, standing up to the Linden but that wonderful Fume Blanc style of the Avenius was just a bit better. Way to go, Doukenie, for making a very nice SB.

pesto, pasta, sauvignon blanc, tomatoes 100

Overall, not your typical Tuesday night dinner, but when you get fresh pesto, you take advantage of it.


Watermelon. Feta. Mint. Heavenly!

Posted on

Finally, summertime! Don’t know what is better, the salad or the gazpacho.

buy local meal practice 093

I suppose you could call this my “Buy Local Challenge” practice meal. There are at least ten locally sourced items in the dinner. For the challenge, you need to eat at least one a day for nine days. No requirement that the nine be different, but in the spirit of the challenge, finding nine locally sourced items and using them during the nine days would certainly be successful as a participant.

The watermelon, feta, mint salad is a summertime staple in our house. Simple. The watermelon is from a farm stand on the way home from our visit to Linden Vineyards. Feta is Bowling Green Farms from right up the road here in Howard County. Mint from my garden, bought years ago from Greenway Farms. Add some olive oil, salt, pepper and at the last minute squeeze the lime over it. An amazingly flavorful salad that just screams Summertime!

The gazpacho. My first of the season. CSA tomatoes, onion, and cucumber. Basil from my garden. A green pepper from that farm stand. A cup of Bloody Mary mix bought in St. Michael’s and sourced from Virginia. Some red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a couple of garlic cloves left over from my Breezy Willow CSA in May. Blended together. No measuring. Just four tomatoes, one red onion, one green pepper, half a huge cucumber, and all the seasonings to taste. We like our gazpacho garlicky so I did toss in a teaspoon of garlic powder since I am waiting for my garlic to cure and I have none left otherwise.

The rest of the dinner?

buy local meal practice 087

A small filet of ahi, sesame crusted. A CSA potato, baked in the microwave and served with Trickling Springs butter. The little vat of garam masala spiced butter is for the corn on the cob that finished the meal.

Oh, and the wine?

buy local meal practice 097

Summertime in a glass. Linden Rosé.

And to round out a lovely Sunday dinner, my table arrangement from the garden. I can’t believe how the gladiolus are going absolutely nuts from the rain.

buy local meal practice 060

Oh, I almost forgot. We harvested our first six sun sugar tomatoes this morning. Whoo Hoo! Summer really is here.

buy local meal practice 064

Here’s to many more lazy flavorful local dinners!

buy local meal practice 078


Way Too Much Rain …

Posted on

… and other Friday ramblings.

We were supposed to have a tree removed this morning. Before the disease that is killing the pine spreads to adjoining pines. Our pine screen is important to us for many reasons and we have lost two trees in nine years to various pests. This will be the third.

What does this have to do with rain? Well, at o-dark-thirty (0630 am) our friend in the landscaping business called to cancel due to the huge amount of rain he was getting where he lives (north and east of us). It was only dreary here, not raining, but today like lots of other days would turn out to be pretty dismal.

My tomato plants have those ugly yellow stems from too much rain. And, I have NOT watered them since early June. Mother Nature is doing a number on them.

So, what did we do with a free day, and crappy weather? Of course, what else sounds appealing. Like a trip down to Linden Vineyards to taste the new releases and have some wine and cheese while watching their dreary weather. At least they aren’t getting the deluge that other parts of the two states have been seeing.

linden in the rain 002

There is something about sitting on that enclosed porch with the doors swung open to watch the fog over the Shenandoah mountains north of the winery. Too bad it decided to rain because they have the most amazingly beautiful deck for enjoying the scenery and watching the weather change.

linden in the rain 005

Today we tasted the newly released chardonnay, and riesling vidal, then sat down and had some Avenius Sauvignon Blanc with chevre, summer sausage and a warm baguette.

About the only thing this rain has been good for, is

csa week 7 13 and flowers and dinner 025

making my flowers explode in blooming. There are literally dozens of stalks on the gladiolus plants in the corner of the yard. I cut two or three every morning to keep them on the counter or the dining room table. Crossing my fingers they will still be blooming the week of the county fair. I got a second place ribbon for them last year.

And, cucumbers. This wet spring and summer means lots and lots of pickling cukes. I added a few to the crock yesterday morning. We keep the dill pickle crock going for as long as we can in the summer. Looks like this may be a banner year.

csa week 7 13 and flowers and dinner 082

The pickles from a little over a week ago are ready to eat. My husband has already been going in the crock and grabbing one to have with lunch. The dark green new ones, scrubbed and dropped into the dill vinegar mix, will soak up that mouth puckering mixture that a perfect dill can achieve. To give them the crunch, I take a few out and put them in the fridge for a few hours before eating them.

To keep them submerged, I bought a saucer that just fits inside the crock. This crock, for pickles, and a larger one for sauerkraut, are always on our counter, hidden in a corner when not in use. In a few weeks, the kraut process will start, so that all fall I can have kraut for sausages, for a side dish and my favorite time to pull it out, Thanksgiving.

Now, if it just would get sunny enough for my first tomatoes. Tonight, when we got home, I went out to pull in a few more cucumbers. I found that the cherry tomatoes and the sun sugar tomatoes are finally starting to get red. Plus, crossing my fingers, none of the heirlooms have split from the excessive moisture. I may actually have either Box Car Willie or Mortgage Lifter or Paul Robeson tomatoes for the fair in three weeks.

Rain, rain, PLEASE, go away. I can even handle those two extremely hot days they are predicting for the middle of next week. Just give us some sunshine.


Linden Spring Release Party

Posted on

The weather didn’t cooperate. Neither did my allergies and/or head cold but nothing was stopping us from attending a much anticipated case club party at Linden. This weekend and next, the 2010 reds and 2011 whites are being released at a special event at the winery. Anyone who reads my locavore/locapour writings knows that this is my favorite VA winery, and one where we have the longest association. More than 20 years.

The events are completely sold out with groups of eight people entering every fifteen minutes to space out the attendance. Outdoor and indoor stations.

photo (17)

You started out on the crush deck with two different pairings of whites. 2010 and 2011 Avenius Chardonnay paired with almonds, then 2010 and 2011 Hardscrabble Chardonnay paired with salmon mousse. While enjoying the wines, you could check out the patio dressed up for springtime but not having any takers in the spring rain. The 2010 whites were our favorites, as noted below the frustrations of 2011 show in the weight of the wines.

photo (23)

As many of us know, 2011 was a challenging year, with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee nailing the mid Atlantic and making the wines much lighter. In fact, inside the tasting room on the regular tasting menu, the newly released 2011 red, simply called Red, not even destined to be labeled Claret, is a simple elegant but not very weighty red. Water plumping up and diluting the juice in the grapes late in the season gives you OK wines, but not the big wines of 2009 and 2010.

We then ventured down into the stainless steel tank room, taking in the view of the vines below the vineyard.

photo (25)

Here we found a new addition, a Cabernet Franc. This individual varietal bottling of franc, only done twice before at Linden was a pleasant surprise. None of that bell pepper thing found in so many VA francs, this is a very lovely wine. 50% Hardscrabble grapes and 50% Boisseau. Paired with lamb meatballs from The Whole Ox.

photo (18)

Moving into the barrel storage rooms, there were three more stations. One, the Boisseau station gave us a treat. A change to the vineyards with the first cabernet sauvignon dominant blend from Richard’s vines in Front Royal. We tease Richard a bit about his “flea market red”, as his vines sit on a hill above a very popular flea market site in the middle of Front Royal VA. The 2009 was this blend. 43% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 26% Petit Verdot. The 2010 was 65% cab, and 35% merlot. What an interesting side by side comparison.

In the middle of the three wine stations, Margaret was set up with a charcuterie, olives and liver pate on toast. She did all the catering this year. This, along with her incredible decorating skills in the winery, inspire us to say (in my old Navy terms) Bravo Zulu! for accomplishing such a transformation in the winery, and for the wonderful food today.

photo (19)

Margaret is in this picture, serving those tasty pates. There was also the signature huge wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. Next stop, the Avenius Reds station. Another surprise for 2010. The Avenius is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, similar to the Boisseau in make up from vastly different due to the soil, growing conditions on the Avenius hillside, you know, the “terroir” that stamps itself into a wine’s nose and taste.

linden releases in the spring 068

Last we hit the Hardscrabble station, where Jim was pouring for a short while. The killer 2009, which we had for dinner last night, and the new elegant but not as weighty 2010 were poured side by side. We talked to Jim a bit about this “normal” spring compared to the hot and dry spring last year.

jim pouring

A very successful event. Even in the rain, the place was hopping. They obviously have figured out what makes people happy. Outstanding wines, year after year. Lots of cases going out the doors while we were there.

photo (22)

One last picture, the redecorated entrance, although too wet and cool today to enjoy, one of those reminders that this is a laid back quiet pleasant winery for those who seriously appreciate good wines that pair well with local foods.

photo (21)

Stop in some day, do a tasting and see how good VA wines can be. Linden is ninety minutes away from Columbia if you head around the DC beltway and out I-66.


Whey Out There!

Posted on

OK! Mozzarella was a success.

whey out there soup 007

Eight ounces of cheese, close to half a gallon of whey left over. Don’t throw it away!

whey out there soup 016

Instead, make soup with it. All from the freezer and fridge. Potato corn chowder. Look into the crock pot. Frozen foods in it.

whey out there soup 029

I dumped about two pounds of Yukon Gold CSA potatoes, boiled, sliced and frozen in October. And, about 10-12 ounces of sweet white corn from TLV, blanched and cut from the cob. The corn is the blob on the right bottom of the pot. All the whey in there.

Plus, green beans from the CSA. Turnips from East Rivendell (they buy wholesale from Lancaster Farm Fresh). Greens and turnips. Baby Hakurei turnips.

whey out there soup 012

Added some scallions and carrots. Carrots from Breezy Willow. Scallions bought at England Acres when I picked up my half a lamb (another topic for later this week). Oh, and some of that bacon from TLV bought Saturday.

whey out there soup 046

Popped some basil from my new plants in it. Some veggie blend from dried herbs. At some point, I fished out the potatoes and pureed them in the blender. Salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste. This came out very well. Rich satisfying soup.

Served with a salad medley. And, a lovely white wine from Linden.

whey out there soup 050

whey out there soup 061


Venison Chili with Virginia Wine

Posted on

Wine with chili. Only a real win if the chili is subtle, smoky, with cinnamon undertones. Not the “In Your Face” heat. Sunday is the day the Eat Local All Winter group posts what we made using locally sourced items. After a wonderful day hiking and discovering new things at the Conservancy with Tom Wessels, it was nice to come home to a warming meal, chili.

wessels and local dinner chili 079

Did you know we have young American chestnut trees surviving the blight, although they are fighting it, on the property in Woodstock? We found many interesting items today, and have the opportunity to learn more from the books about reading the forested landscape.

wessels and local dinner chili 094

I will save more details about what we learned for a future post, and get back to the other topic, What was dinner? The vast majority of the chili came from our freezer. It included a large container of heirloom tomatoes from my garden, onions and peppers from the CSA, and a beef stew stock made last fall. All dumped in the crock pot with a pound of the ground venison. Additional tomato paste, black beans and tomato/lime/cilantro mix (courtesy of Rotel) came from the pantry and weren’t local. Also, a couple of onions from last week’s CSA delivery, chopped up. The spices were cinnamon, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. A splash of Pennsylvania maple syrup, and a chopped up jalapeno out of the freezer, another CSA contribution. Slow cooked for ten hours in the crock pot. It looked like this when done.

wessels and local dinner chili 102

Served on the side were Trickling Springs butter and that old fashioned white bread from Great Harvest.

wessels and local dinner chili 098

Since it didn’t overwhelm with heat, and had lovely flavor, I decided to open a VA wine. An old one. Predominantly petit verdot. A grape used sparingly in France in Bordeaux, but one which does well in the long growing season in VA.

wessels and local dinner chili 113

Yes, the year is 2001, a very good year for VA wines. This blend is vastly different than the other three blends Linden produced in 2001. With all of them in the cellar, we get to sample the differences. This wine has softened over the years, but is still lovely. Supposed to be past its prime, but we don’t think so. Cherry and tobacco in the taste. Very easy to drink. Not brown around the edges either. We do need to drink the rest of these though, as they won’t hold many more years.

wessels and local dinner chili 108

Later tonight, a bit of maple flavored yogurt from Pequea Valley Farm in PA, mixed with some blueberries from Butler Orchards, out of the freezer. Lots of berries left, and the yogurt is one I have talked about many times, available at Breezy Willow or at England Acres.

I have to admit again, eating locally in the winter is not difficult around here.