So, the weekend is almost over. Just the Ravens game to watch tonight. It was a quiet weekend here. A little cooking. A little outdoor radio planning. A visit to W3LPL’s QTH to pick up an award plaque for our service to our local club.
I don’t do much on the radios around here but supporting the local club members is something I enjoy.
Just like supporting my local farms. Like Wheeler Farm at their market, and South Mountain for their ice cream.
We don’t do Black Friday. Never have, but small businesses get our money year round. Not just one day a year. Don’t do Cyber Monday either.
But Giving Tuesday? A big deal for us. Who benefits? The Amateur Radio Relay League and the Howard County Conservancy.
So yeah, the weekend is over but our lives are enriched by those organizations. Year round. They are our extended family.
Today is the tenth anniversary of this blog. I registered the domain name on 2 November 2011. Because? I wanted to write about my retirement and the things that interested me.
I was pretty prolific in the early years. Sometimes daily. Now, new topics are rare but I still enjoy writing. My phone has replaced my camera for taking the pictures. The iPad is my writing desk and the big bulky PC is a door stop, so to speak.
I am sitting at my desk in the study and looking at the scenery in the rain.
Waiting for the conditions that made this shot more than a decade ago.
Autumn is our favorite time here. Even with all the yard work to prepare for winter. We still suck up all the pine needles for our friends who use them on their berry plants. Many of the trees in the picture above are gone. Between the tornado and other wind storms that large grove across the street is no longer a dense screen and we see the neighbor’s lights in the evening.
What else has changed in this decade I have been retired? More traffic. More houses. More businesses up the road. I think we have more restaurants and carry outs less than a mile away than we did when we lived in Columbia. Five restaurants. Two carry outs. A coffee shop in the doggy day care house.
Jenny’s Market is now open seven months, and is taking turkey orders to fill with TLV farm turkeys. We have the ShoNuf turkeys in Maple Lawn and at Boarman’s market. No turkey shortage here in Howard County for Thanksgiving.
I will be getting a half turkey at Jenny’s since it’s just us again this year. Not quite ready to travel or eat indoors yet and I am not a fan of the choices from the local restaurants for the Thanksgiving packaged deals for take out and reheat at home. I like making the turkey my way and having all those leftover parts for future meals.
So, where am I going with all this rambling? Do I continue to occasionally write what I am thinking? Do I return to those endless posts about what I got in my farm share?
I hope we have more road trips, more restaurant meals, more new places to review in 2022. We are cautiously venturing out more and more. Have a visit planned to Linden Vineyards for a pre-release party.
Attending Iron Bridge University in the tented dining area where Rob is doing crazy things like pairing wine and potato chips. Seriously. By the way, Utz’s Dill pickle chips go really well with lightly oaked Chardonnay.
Well, enough rambling. I am off to do some errands and pick up my first fall CSA share which includes boneless chicken breast, chèvre and honey in my omnivore basket. Sounds like a ready made trio to make dinner this evening.
It’s been decades since we last steamed blue crabs. Last weekend we finally had the opportunity to put half a bushel in the pot and have our own personal crab feast.
I grew up looking forward to those rare celebrations of the “beautiful swimmers” as our Bay blue crabs are called. Simply prepared. Steamed in either vinegar or beer. Covered in Old Bay Seasoning.
Put the newspaper on the table, grab a mallet and a knife and get down to business. We have been enjoying the eastern shore crab houses the past few years. Not making the mess in the kitchen steaming them ourselves.
Now we have a neighbor who crabs every week and sells what he catches. We bought half a bushel of mixed size “sooks”, which are mature female crabs.
Cost us less than a pound of lump crabmeat costs these days. We ate a few dozen right from the pot, and then started picking crab meat to make soup and crab cakes,
The crab cakes were worth the time to pick all that backfin.
I made these in my cast iron skillet using browned butter to get them nice, crispy and dark.
We have until the end of the month to get more if we want to do this again. It’s been far too long and besides the little mess in the kitchen, they aren’t that hard to do.
Let it be known, I hate DST. Always have. I call it Daylight Stupid Time.
It is just stupid to mess with the science. Should we replace “High Noon” with “High 1 PM”? The time zones pretty much align with the transit of the sun. Yes, the edges are off a bit. But, equal daylight on either side of noon is what a time zone delivers.
Plus, I hate that complete disruption of sleep that springing forward creates. If our teenagers are already sleep deprived with early school start times, why are we messing with them by making them get up in the middle of the night to go to school?
Thankfully now we are retired. We get up with the sun and ignore alarms.
Next week we pass the equinox, and enter the months of 12+ hours of daylight, whatever the clock says. We enjoyed the great weather this weekend and finally got out to celebrate the slow return to normal after vaccination.
Local, as usual. Our forays into The Common Kitchen Friday. And, Black Ankle Winery Saturday.
We did take out Friday at Anh-mazing Banh Mi.
They have a new Banh Mi. Cajun Seafood.
Banh Mi reminds me of Po’ Boys, but with serious additions. We also got a noodle bowl.
The Common Kitchen has so many options for good food. Our favorites are Namaste Indian and The Koshary, Middle Eastern. Now, we can add Banh Mi to that list.
Then, Saturday we had errands to run up towards Frederick. On the way home we decided, time to eat out for our first time in a year. Enter Black Ankle Winery.
We have been going there since they opened almost 15 years ago. Right now, over 80 tables socially distanced, where you can sit out and enjoy wine, food and sometimes music because Ed and Sarah have one incredible location catering to those of us who appreciate small businesses full of local choices.
We loved the hour spent there having lunch with a very good bottle of Albariño.
Best al fresco dining view in the area.
I am so glad we can get out and support local businesses. Making our way through the transition and springing forward.
So OK, it is just Wednesday. No holiday. No significant life event.
But we live a fairly reclusive life, with no restaurant visits, no day trips, no outdoor activities because of the weather. We have been doing a weekly “cooking as a couple” dinner, which was a New Year’s resolution.
Tonight we cracked open a new cookbook of mine, I Cook in Color. By Asha Gomez.
Clam chowder, made with fennel and leeks.
We are using small, local businesses in our sourcing of ingredients for our cooking. We are supporting the small grocers, liquor stores, farms and a friend who is a wine broker.
We love Italian wines. Todd Ruby Wines is a wine brokerage owned by an amateur radio friend. He brings in awesome wines like this Greco di Tufo. Procured for us by The Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Perfect with the rich clam chowder.
As for the soup ingredients, Some of them came from Boarman’s. Our local grocery store. Littleneck Clams. Clam juice. Canned clams. Leeks. Fennel. Yukon Gold potatoes. Diced pancetta, which was a substitute for the smoked clams in the recipe.
We made our own seafood stock yesterday from leftover lobster claw shells. Used my CSA veggies in the stock.
The finishing touch, flour mixed with half and half, used CSA flour from a mill in Amish country PA.
How did we make it? Chopped leek, fennel and potato. Sautéed in butter. Added three cups of seafood stock. A bottle of clam juice and a can of baby clams. Browned pancetta. A pound of littlenecks.
Finished with a thickener of 1/3 cup of flour and a pint of half and half.
We have enough left for another night’s dinner. We only used half the clams from the bag. They were Chesapeake Bay clams from Virginia, harvested Monday, bought on Tuesday and cooked today.
This expansion of our cooking hobby is what is keeping us sane. While enjoying the fruits of our labor. Wonder what we will tackle on Valentine’s Day?
It’s been over a hundred days since we’ve been anywhere. Except for curbside pickups and a few quick trips to grocery stores and markets. Oh, and the hardware store.
Thankfully we have enough space around here and enough to do to keep busy. Plus, my garden. It gives me peace and quiet while dealing with the squash beetles and the weeds. And harvesting asparagus.
I did get my first four yellow cherry tomatoes yesterday. No squash yet, and the cucumbers don’t look great. Lots of asparagus though.
The peppers? Hanging in there but the weather isn’t cooperating either.
I have been cooking quite a bit. Making the most of my Vegetable share. Particularly all the greens. I have been cooking from Toni Tipton-Martin’s book Jubilee, this month’s cookbook club selection.
Collards with cornmeal dumplings. This was a serious undertaking. Many steps. But the result was delicious. Those dumplings were awesome.
Island banana bread. Transports me back to Jamaica. Full of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, with dates and pecans. This cookbook is full of absolutely flavorful trips down Memory Lane for me.
I found lots of new favorites along the journey. Like this broccoli and cauliflower salad with curried dressing. You assemble and dress this salad and let it marinate in the fridge for hours. These are the spices from the deep Caribbean, like we encountered in Trinidad.
I found that cooking from this book allowed me to reminisce about travels from decades past, while staying “safer at home”.
I downloaded the iBook version of the book. No trips to stores for much of what I made here. Thankfully Harris Teeter has curbside pickup and could provide us with many of the needed items. They also waived the pickup fee for senior citizens so kudos to them for their accommodation to us while we are taking care of ourselves.
The Book? It is written by Toni Tipton-Martin and is titled Jubilee, Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. Paired with my other iBook from the exploration of the South, Deep Run Roots. Together they explore the rich history of Southern cooking through two separate perspectives but with very similar results in many recipes.
Vivian Howard learned how to prepare numerous items by watching Mrs. Mary and Ms. Lillie who cooked in Southern homes for decades. If you get a chance to record and watch Somewhere South or A Chef’s Life on PBS, both of her series delve into recipe origins and the complexities of Southern cooking are revealed.
Are you a collard eater or a turnip greens eater? What are the differences between Creole and Cajun? How did rice and okra and sweet potatoes get into the Southern diet? For me with my interest in cooking, baking and gardening I find that cookbooks with history in them give me a deeper understanding of life in the past.
To summarize from a very long story today, I have been staying sane by “traveling” and learning in the comfort and safety of my kitchen. I have also been supporting local small businesses for ingredients to do so. Not ready for restaurants yet, but farmer’s markets and farm stores have returned to our lives.
Thanks to Jenny’s market drive thru when I need something quick. To Breezy Willow and Mary’s Land Farm stores when I need meat or fish. To the Wheelhouse Market. To TLV and the other farmers at the markets here in HoCo.
I am staying sane by gardening, cooking and baking. What are you doing to stay sane?
What a difference a year makes. Last spring we barely had enough members to get our pick up site renewed. Now, Community Supported Agriculture is booming, with twice the number of people at our site. Lancaster Farm Fresh is showing on their web site that some of the shares are sold out. Including meat, chicken and cheese shares.
My monthly meat share provider, Evermore Farm in Westminster, is also slammed. The owner was telling me that they aren’t accepting CSA shares right now because of the demand. They also suspended sales of sides of beef and pork. We are lucky that we have locked in a medium share for the foreseeable future.
Now if I can find a local source for flour that would be nice. I am baking twice a week and can’t find bread flour or yeast. I may end up buying the grinder option for my KitchenAid mixer and grinding the wheat berries and rye berries from our winter CSA pantry share. They are in my basement fridge. I have been experimenting with a mix of whole wheat flour and some soft winter wheat which isn’t the best bread flour but it seems to be working.
Also, did you know there are local restaurants offering meat bundles, produce bundles, and packages to help with the much larger demand for fresh foods? We have replaced restaurant eating with home cooking and the once adequate supplies in the stores are quickly gobbled up. Walker’s Tap to Table up the road from us is offering these. Using JW Treuth for meat.
Jenny’s just opened their farm stand, giving us really close access to fruits, veggies, plants, and more. The farmer’s markets are back, as drive throughs. I think I can minimize my once every ten day visits for curbside pickup from Harris Teeter. Maybe drop back to biweekly. For the staples, like oils and vinegar, spices, and cleaning supplies.
Thanks to my meat share, and my vegetable share, I had everything to make a big pot of bean soup today. Because of course the weather isn’t cooperating and it’s cold out. Not grilling weather at all, but stay inside, make bread and soup, and cover the plants at night weather. I hear that Western Maryland had snow flurries last night. Not your typical Mother’s Day weather at all.
So, here’s to the wonderful bean soup.
Ham hock from Evermore. Seared with onions from CSA. Add six cups of water. Simmer a long time. Add pepper, oregano and thyme. Celery, carrots, green cabbage. A large can of white beans with the liquid to make it creamy. This soup spent six hours on the stovetop on low heat. It was awesome with my homemade bread. Who needs to go out? We can enjoy good food at home. Fresh from the farm to table.
It’s been a while since I highlighted my farm share contents. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is the source of most of my produce year round. 48 out of 52 weeks we get some sort of vegetable share and a few add ons.
This winter I added an option that included one cheese, one pantry item and one package of meat every week. It is called the omnivore package. For those inclined, they also offered us a veganize option, which was bread, tofu and pantry item.
This was a recent weekly selection and I want to feature it because I am so impressed with the Soom product. Locally owned in Philly. Sisters. Our co-op contracts with them. Besides their regular tahini, this week we got the chocolate version. Which is destined for a cookie recipe I found.
Other local products have shown up as pantry items. Like this garlic pickle relish.
But the biggest surprise had to be the whole turkey legs last week. I kept thinking when I saw the email announcing the three items for the week that they can’t mean multiple legs. I thought “whole” turkey legs, really? Not drumsticks?
Nope, they were whole turkey legs.
Two of them. Total of 6.85 pounds. These were broad breasted black turkeys. A hybrid breed that can reach 40 pounds in weight.
When I buy a fresh turkey from Maple Lawn Farms, I get a 12-14 pound bird. These legs were humongous. I kept them in the freezer because it looks like I will be grilling them. Together they would overflow my large roasting pan. I also think I may have to figure out how to separate them while frozen and only make one at a time. They are much too large to make soup.
Thankfully, we both favor dark meat in turkeys. But even one of these legs will feed us for days. At about 4-6 ounces a serving and discarding the bones, there are easily 6 servings here. Any and all suggestions for what to make with these behemoths are welcome.
All in all, I believe we are getting our money’s worth from the omnivore add on. We paid $26 a week for this share. The combined value of the products we received definitely exceeded the amount paid. We have gotten lamb, bison, turkey, chicken, pork and beef during the winter. We have gotten honey, tahini, sauerkraut, maple syrup, chocolate tahini, herbal teas, jam, dried mushrooms, AP flour, scone mix, pasta and that awesome garlic pickle relish. We get goat, sheep and cow milk cheeses – my favorites are the aged goat cheeses.
I am about to begin my 9th summer season with the co-op. Still happy with the quality and the quantity. They also still amaze me with the occasional completely new produce item, even after all these years.
Degrees. Fahrenheit. The lowest temperature here in the boonies, measured just south of us in Dayton at the RIMPO weather station. This was Thursday morning at 4:52 am while we were still all bundled up and warm, sleeping.
I am so glad I don’t have to commute in this weather. At that hour, before retirement, my husband would have been leaving to catch the commuter bus.
We haven’t ventured out much and we have been taking care of the birds and squirrels that live in our pine trees. I did find out that my bird bath heater doesn’t do ZERO degrees. The water was frozen Thursday. It was OK this morning so it hasn’t bit the dust.
This is what it should look like. It was a solid sheet of ice and I did not try to take pictures in that temperature.
It does pretty well in snow, like during Snowmageddon a few years back.
Having fresh water is the most important service I can provide them.
Since I have been stuck at home, I have been following social media using the neighborhood pages. Many requests for plumbers, or HVAC people. I have to say that periods of bad weather are not the time to go looking for immediate help if you haven’t already established a relationship, A plumber who knows you and your property will fit you in. Ken Griffin did a same day service call when we had a bathroom pipe freeze and break five years ago. Environmental Systems Associates has come in less than 24 hours when our heat pumps have failed. We use both of these local businesses for work when it isn’t an emergency so we aren’t looking for recommendations on line during a crisis.
Right now it is still snowing. There’s at least three inches out on the benches. This wasn’t predicted to happen. Looks like tomorrow we will be clearing the driveway and the cars. I have to go pick up my monthly meat share delivery at the Wegmans parking lot at noon. Evermore Farm has about 20 of us on their delivery route throughout the area and I am fresh out of eggs. Looking forward to the chicken too. I pick up three dozen eggs, a chicken, and 7-8 pounds of Angus beef and Berkshire pork. I could have home delivery but this gives me an excuse to shop once a month at Wegmans.
I think I will stop by Mother Natures in Snowden for bird seed. My supplies are dwindling. They are right down the road from Wegmans. Might as well make this an efficient trip.
The holiday weekend is over. Now to get ready for Christmas.
I realized this was our 40th Thanksgiving together. Our first, we headed to PA so I could meet my future in-laws. After that, we regularly spent the day with one of our families.
Usually we went to PA. Then, for the past 12 years we headed to Annapolis to visit my mom and my brother’s family. All of that changed this year. With mom’s passing, and my brother in the midst of a move to eastern VA, we found ourselves without plans for the weekend.
It was weird but also quite peaceful. No last minute crises. No traffic woes. We spent the last five days doing what we wanted when we wanted.
It was heavy with local influences, in a series of meals. We spread it out. I did oyster stew one night with oysters from Boarman’s. We had our Maple Lawn turkey on Thanksgiving.
I made sides and seasonings that we like. My dressing used chorizo and fresh bread cubes made from my CSA ancient grain bread. My homemade cranberry sauce was tangy from the lemon and orange in it. I made creamed spinach instead of green beans.
My husband went up to Dandelion Bistro Wednesday night to pick out a dessert for Thursday. Smith Island cake. Not traditional at all. So, so good though.
Tonight we used more of that leftover turkey along with some of the stock I made from the turkey bones. Pappardelle’s orzo bought from Secolari at Mary’s Land Farm.
We have enough turkey left for sandwiches, and enough soup for another dinner.
As for other things we did, we had a wonderful meal to celebrate my husband’s birthday at Hudson Coastal. We went Saturday night during our latest deluge. The restaurant was busy but not overwhelmed, and the food was excellent.
Today I watched the traffic backups and was thankful our days of nail-biting drives are over. But, we miss our parents. We are thankful we had so many years to share holidays. We just need to adjust to new routines and make new memories.
Tomorrow? Baking for the Conservancy holiday sale, where we make a potluck lunch for volunteers and vendors. The sale is Saturday and is a highlight of the start of many activities leading up to Christmas.