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.
You learn something new every day. I never knew what dog days of summer meant. I thought it had something to do with dogs. Not astronomy.
We are officially in the dog days, since the Dog Star Sirius has done its annual rising in alignment with the Sun. The ancient Greeks thought that the hottest time of year was caused by the Sun and the brightest star (Sirius) focusing their heat on the Earth.
Well, we are certainly getting our share of hot days. Another warm week ahead. This is the time in summer when I don’t want to cook much. Lots of salads and easy meals.
The tomatoes are starting to ripen, which means I will be heating up the kitchen making sauces and roasting cherry tomatoes to put away for the winter.
I made a trip To Sprouts Market yesterday to pick up simple items to continue this pattern in meal prep. Lots of cheeses, olive mix, some prosciutto and nuts/seeds.
Some of my latest successes.
An updated fennel and orange salad, with the addition of blueberries and almonds, and on a bed of leaf lettuce.
A Greek salad using a massive heirloom pineapple tomato, from my CSA. My large tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.
Tonight though, I put together one of my absolute favorites. Peach, tomato and burrata salad.
Tomatoes and basil from my garden. CSA peaches. Burrata bought at Sprouts. Olive oil from The Breadery in Oella.
This is a restaurant quality salad. At a fraction of the cost. Worth splurging on the burrata.
I also made a simple gazpacho today which is resting in the fridge. It will be dinner tomorrow, with a side dish of prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe. Some crusty bread. A local rosé wine.
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?
The end of a quiet holiday weekend. Watching the Packers. After spending time cleaning up the cars for winter. Certainly not an exciting or sexy way to spend Thanksgiving.
I did do a turkey, but only a half one. Thanks to Triadelphia LakeView Farm and Jenny’s Market.
Not a particularly small turkey, at 10.9 pounds for the half. This was fairly easy to do. Dry brine overnight with salt, orange zest, sugar and lemon juice.
Roasted first at 400° for 20 minutes, then finished at 325° for two more hours.
We had the wing and part of the breast for dinner. I then made soup from the drumstick and the bones to have Friday night. Turkey noodle soup. Yesterday I made the breast meat with a covering of buttered cheesecloth to give us another meal.
Today we were turkeyed out so I made a rump roast. Slow cooked in the oven with veggies.
This was a small business Thanksgiving meal. Local vendors.
Time to start working on our small business Christmas. Poinsettias from Greenway Farms. Greenery from Triadelphia LakeView.
We can get through this year by continuing to be careful, and by supporting our small local farms and businesses. We are thankful for them being here for us.
Old enough to be labeled on social media as Boomers. Questioning our computer skills, even though he spent twenty five years running the computer lab at APL, making sure all those Masters’ candidates didn’t fry the hardware while doing their lab projects.
We used to program data collection systems in machine language for the Navy, so yeah, we can program our iPhones.
Now, I made a simple extravagant dinner at home. A combination of local and favorite items. Lobster and cake from Harris Teeter. Filet mignon from Boarman’s. Bubbly from The Wine Bin. A beautiful super Tuscan given to him five years ago by an old friend.
The hits of the evening were the lobster and the Tignanello.
This dinner was simple to make. Steam the lobster. Fry the steaks. Open the wines. Make a salad.
The 40th Anniversary. According to Hallmark, it is Ruby. You know, incentive to buy cards and other things from that Hallmark store.
August 9th 1980. In 95+ degree heat. We got married.
We thought that we would be going away to celebrate but Covid-19 ruined those plans.
As our celebration, like we do for minor events where I cook and we open old wines, we decided to commemorate that Ruby theme by opening an old Port. From the year we were married.
Yeah, it’s no longer ruby red but it was really incredible. We bought these Ports from Wells Liquors in Baltimore. They were from the closed Brentwood Inn. We figured they would obviously survive for anniversaries far beyond what a bottle of wine could do.
I served the Port with a few lovely dark chocolate salted caramels from Sweet Cascades. We picked them up at the Wine Bin.
I made simple pan fried tenderloin filets. Bought at Boarman’s. Seared to perfection. Opened a Beringer reserve cabernet. Buttered fingerlings. Sliced heirloom tomatoes. Nothing difficult to make.
It’s been an adventure. Forty years together. These days far more time together since we don’t get out much. Not the way we intended to spend retirement but thankfully having a larger hone and a big yard we can get some alone time when we need it.
Let’s hope better times are coming. So we can go out and celebrate my husband’s 70th birthday later this year.
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?