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San Francisco Bay

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If there was only one environmentally friendly packaged coffee out there, I hope it is this one. We have a Keurig for convenience, for those days we don’t want a whole pot. I do buy some Green Mountain coffees, but don’t like their wasteful packaging.

Way back when, I discovered this family business that packaged their coffees without all that extra plastic stuff.

Use it. Put it in the compost. Even their outer wrap for the 10 pod packages is made of compostable material. I made special trips to Wegmans to buy it.

Now, it’s gone. Probably because it doesn’t work in K-2 machines. It was a bargain. Less than 40 cents a pod.

But, you know, when you can’t find something, you can always¬†turn to Amazon, can’t you? Yep, the 80 cup pack on line for less than what we paid at Wegmans. With Prime, and free shipping, 30 cents a cup.

And we wonder why brick and mortar stores are hurting.

By the way, this is an excellent dark roast coffee. Low in acid. High in flavor. The dark roasts are so much nicer for those of us who want to avoid acid.

Short and Sweet Saturdays

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A new addition to my writings. To entice me to sit down more often and write. When we get too busy to take the time to pursue our hobbies that bring us pleasure, we sometimes need to stop and smell the flowers again.

I will try and post at least twice a week. Those Tidbit Tuesdays, and these. Discipline. It’s what I need to come down to the computer and write.

I have a long in process post about the trivia behind amateur radio Field Day. I will get it done and posted soon, I hope.

In the meantime, some tidbits from the past few days.


Not excited, am I? For 18 months, we mourned the absence of our favorite food writer, who helped me grow this site by linking to it and letting me guest post on the most comprehensive local food scene blog in Central Maryland (and beyond). His toddler had him way too busy to write (and curtailed his frequent visits to the local restaurant scene). It’s good to see him back and writing about what is new and exciting in Howard County.

In other news, I have just finished my first four month subscription to a meat share CSA, with Evermore Farms, and loved it so much I am renewing for the next four months. I like getting this monthly surprise bundle. Keeps me creative in the kitchen. Like today.

My small share. 7-9 pounds of meat a month. I also get a chicken share. Today’s bird was 5.25 pounds. I also chose to get two dozen eggs a month. The right size for the two of us. I supplement the share with a few items from the freezers at the farm. I do have the option of getting a “delivered” share, to be picked up at the Columbia Wegmans every month, or to have home delivery, which requires leaving a cooler outside. I like going to the farm, picking out a couple of extra items (including Rheb’s truffles and Salazon chocolate). Today I did get two skirt steaks to grill.

This month was heavy on the grilling stuff. Beef patties. Sirloin steak. Lamb sausage. It’s a good mix of beef, pork and lamb.

There are some ham “chips” which are just screaming for me to use in a traditional Maryland style crab soup. When I make it, there will be pictures.

And, the last tidbit today. What is it with the wind out there. It knocked over my potted bay leaf plant twice so I had to rescue it in order to keep it safe from breaking.

I had to wedge it in between the patio and deck.

It has all kinds of new growth on it, and it is getting unwieldy. I need to transplant it again to a bigger heavier pot. That does make it difficult to bring inside for the winter but it’s worth it to have fresh bay leaves for soups and stews.

Time to stop writing here and get back to answering emails on the community gardens page. Now that’s a whole other topic I could write volumes about.

Taco Night

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Thanks to Friends and Farms.

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My first ever fish tacos thanks to the themed basket this week. Mahi mahi. Cilantro. Red cabbage. I did cheat and use Roots market salsa fresco instead of the tomatoes, garlic, onion and radishes in the basket.

I did use their recommended recipes to find a good sauce for the tacos. A take on a tartar sauce, but slightly different.

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The recipe calls for mayo, sriracha and honey. I used mayo, taco seasoning that I made myself, and agave. Hey, you use what you have.

Mix it to your taste preference. I like it spicy. My taco seasoning, which is my chili mix, uses cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, unsweetened chocolate, salt, pepper and chipotle powder. It’s just a container full of whatever looks interesting. Variety is truly the spice of life around here.

As for the mahi, sprinkled with the seasoning and grilled in olive oil.

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I got the corn taco shells at Wegmans. We also made sirloin tacos with the other protein in the basket.

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I hear a few people whined about the lack of produce in this week’s basket. It is the beginning of January. I thought they did a great job giving us some fun items to use to cook. We got hydroponic lettuce, tomatoes from a high tunnel, radishes, red cabbage, cilantro, apples, eggs, bread, sirloin, mahi mahi, and the larger baskets got cheese.

I was happy. But then who wouldn’t be after tacos with Yuengling.

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Who can resist? Supporting a local business and a brewery from my husband’s home county in PA.

Real Value

This week’s CSA share.

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As I looked at the selection, I decided it was time to do another comparison of the value of this half share. It cost me $19 a week for the summer, and again this fall, the same, since we signed up early for both seasons.

Most weeks I know this half share would have cost me more in the organic aisles of the local grocery stores. Here, proof again that it is true.

I used Wegmans on line shopping tool, for our local store. They have some of the best prices in the area for organic. The smaller stores, like Roots and MOMs can be even more expensive.

We had nine items this week. I did swap the red kale for some potatoes. I used the cost of the kale in my comparison because that is what we were sent.

Most expensive to buy. Organic cauliflower and broccoli. $4.49 for cauliflower. $3.49 for broccoli. Spaghetti squash (theirs wasn’t organic) $1.49/lb. Mine weighs almost two pounds.

Organic red kale was $2.69 each. Red leaf lettuce $2.29 each. Butterhead lettuce, not organic, $1.99. Hot peppers, not organic, $3.99 a pound. I had almost a pound of them. The only radishes at Wegmans on line were regular. Not the French Breakfast radishes we got. They were $1.99 a bunch. Organic baby beets, $2.99 a bunch.

All told. A smidge less than $27 to buy.

As for our fruit share this week.

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Seven organic honey crisp apples. At Wegmans these go for $3.49 a pound. Mine weighed slightly over 3 pounds. The kiwiberries. Who knows what they cost. They are rarely seen around here. Conservatively $4, maybe $5, if you can find them. Value, somewhere between $14 and $15. My fruit share costs $10 a week. Really worth it for those fruit varieties that are extremely hard to find without possibilities of pesticides.

This week I didn’t photograph my chicken share. It was boneless skinless chicken breast, and a couple of whole chicken legs. So, I will leave us with the photograph of a recent dinner with the Lancaster Farm Fresh chicken.

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The chicken breasts are usually parboiled first. I then make them into whatever suits my taste over the next few days. Maybe Caesar salad. Maybe chicken salad sandwiches. This time, I used some white wine, olive oil, some mixed herbs and quickly heated them in a moderate oven. The wine keeps them moist.

I also made some mushroom gravy using the Whole Foods brand of condensed mushroom soup. I now know that I prefer the Pacific brand, as this was a little thinner. I added some of the cremini mushrooms too. Spooned over the chicken. Served with some brown Jasmine rice.

And, those great zucchini fritters I have made many times. That Smitten Kitchen recipe is now a staple in my recipe file.

Whole Foods

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Opened in Howard County ten days ago. Now, I suppose we are complete as a upscale grocery store containing county. We have the Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans trilogy.

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Everyone knows that I support small local businesses, mostly family owned, but still, there is something about stepping into one of these specialty grocers that brings the “foodie” side to the forefront. We headed off Monday morning to have an early lunch and see if Whole Foods had a few items I can’t find at other stores.

First of all, you can’t beat the view from the “dining” area.

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Second, where else in a food store do you find flowers on the tables?

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I think they did an excellent job of transforming the former Rouse Building into something exciting, open and interesting. I also have to give them credit for using local purveyors and acknowledging it.

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We tried a link of each of the two homemade lamb sausages, one Greek and one Moroccan. The verdict, liked the Merguez, and tossed the Lukanika. It had way too funky of a smell to it. Not a good fit.

I also got caught up in trying the handmade gnocchi. The spinach one.

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Made it for dinner, with meatballs. Used some of my freshly made sage butter for the pasta.

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All in all, it will be a place we use to find bulk items, like spices, rice, grains, nuts. They have a very large selection. The seafood also looks good. Right now, I head to Wegmans for seafood, but Whole Foods is closer.

And, Friday morning at 9:30, it was easy to pop in and grab a few hard rolls for an egg salad lunch, and some pita for my eggplant dip. I do like their bakery items.

First impressions. Favorable.

If It’s Thursday …

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… it must be market day.

Or maybe I should say basket day. Three months ago I decided to try out Friends and Farms, until the spring CSA starts up. Turns out I really like the variety of protein and the surprises like this one.

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That would be the buttermilk. Back when I started with the CSA I enjoyed the challenge of cooking with new vegetables. Now, we get grains, beans, polenta, monkfish, and other items that aren’t on my normal shopping list. It makes me think outside that rut filled box (mixing metaphors here) that we all fall into. Cooking in our comfort zone.

Looking ahead, next week is a doozy. Catfish and grits.

This week, bangers and mash.

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Along with the suggested chicken and waffles. Since I don’t have a waffle maker, I am considering scones or cornbread. Or maybe blueberry pancakes using up some of my Larriland berries from the freezer.

This week we are slowly moving into springtime. With my favorite tomatoes other than those I grow.

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Hummingbird Farms hydroponic tomatoes. Grown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

This week’s basket was huge.

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I had to use the wide angle setting. And this is a small basket.

We got edamame. That was a bonus. Spring greens. A mess of collard greens. Those tomatoes. Potatoes. Apples. Pea shoots. Onions. The bangers. Chicken. Breakfast sausage. I got yogurt for the eggs, and eggs for the milk. My standard switch. Grains Galore bread from the Breadery.

So far, it has been easy to use up the protein. The dairy, a little harder. The frozen items I occasionally forget to make, but I do get to them. We love the edamame as an appetizer.

So, today, I hit Wegmans for some tuna. Grilled it with the potatoes. Made a great salad using some spring mix, pea shoots, the last of the cucumbers from an earlier basket.

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I mean, after all, it is springtime and the weather just invited grilling. Since it may rain tomorrow, I am thinking it will be banger and mash night.


Two Stop Shopping

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As I blogged yesterday, I did the weekly pick up down on Gerwig Lane for this week’s Friends and Farms basket, then I headed over to Wegmans to get those K cups, olive oil, and a few other small items.

Of course, I never get out of there without at least two bags of stuff.

Like the fixings to make a Greek salad, since we got cucumbers this week in our basket.


I have learned to put extra items on my list by signing in on Sunday night and choosing what I know we will use. This week I added extra Asian pears, cucumbers and Bibb lettuce.

Our meats this week included turkey sausage, pork butt and chicken breasts. It was an egg week, and for me, the substitute yogurt for the eggs, and the eggs for the weekly milk, rounded out my protein and dairy.

I won’t need to purchase anything else to make dinners and lunches next week.

The pork, with the sauerkraut, and the pears will make a great dinner.

We also got frozen strawberries. Right now, I am enjoying refreshing drinks made of strawberries and seltzer.

I picked one of my favorite Breadery breads. Kalamata olive and rosemary.


We also had spring mix, sweet potatoes, onions, and broccoli crowns.

Dinner tonight was inspired by those cucumbers, and the mix of lettuces.

At Wegmans, I hit the olive bar and also picked up some Campari tomatoes. I had the last of the Bowling Green Feta in the fridge, so Greek salad got made.


The tuna. Pan seared with sesame seeds and sea salt. The last pieces of the tuna we bought last month. The fingerlings. A splurge at Wegmans. Since all I have in the house are the sweet potatoes from today’s basket. Half the plate. The Greek salad. A piece of that lovely olive bread.

A glass of pinot noir. What could be better for dinner?


The Runaround

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It’s what I am currently doing to fill in those voids in my pantry and fridge.

Wegmans has a few things I like, and can’t get elsewhere. So does Roots. And, Harris Teeter.

But, they are no longer the primary source of the foods we eat.

The CSAs and the Friends and Farms basket now comprise the bulk of my food sources.

Plus, what is in the freezer, from my garden and from places like Larriland.

Roots is my source for cereal, bulk foods and specialty items like coconut oils.


Thankfully, Clarksville isn’t that far away.

As for Wegmans, they are the only source for two standard items in our kitchen.


Shelf stable non dairy creamer, unflavored, for me.

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A really good choice for K cup coffee, this San Francisco Bay one.

We are still getting the coupon books, even though Wegmans has decided I don’t come there often enough to send me the Menu magazine. I asked. They said, I don’t do enough business with them.

Interesting reply.

Harris Teeter. The grocery store we use for other shopping. Mainly on Thursdays, since they give seniors like us a 5% discount on Thursdays.

So, tomorrow, while getting my Friends and Farms pick up, I will hit Wegmans to use the coupon for coffee, which we need.

I have to admit. It is not what I thought I would be doing, four years ago, when I retired. Interesting that the changes I made to focus on local buying, and small business emphasis, have shaped where I go and what I purchase.


Christmas Dinner

Better than Ruth’s Chris. Worth way more than what it cost to make. Our quite simple to make yet amazingly flavorful Christmas dinner.


Start with the tenderloin. I’ll let you in on a secret. Hit Wegmans on the 3rd or 4th of January, when they sell off the tenderloins at huge savings. We bought two last year. Half price.

One grilled this summer. This one saved for Christmas. A very simple recipe, thanks to Ina Garten.

This was a three pound loin. I didn’t need to tie it off. I didn’t use the tarragon. Just olive oil, salt, pepper and I did add garlic powder. Slow roasted for about two hours at 250 degrees.

It registered at 140 degrees when tented. Came out absolutely perfect. Fork tender.

The sides. Brussels sprouts in brown butter with pecans.


Another simple technique. Brown some butter. Add pecans and toast. Add very small sprouts. Get them nice and seared, then lower the heat and cover the pan. A few minutes until they soften up.

We opened a very fruity, lovely velvety soft William Cole wine. A gift from a friend.


This wine was a 1998. Let’s just say I couldn’t afford it at a restaurant. Fifteen years old. Still with structure. My husband’s comment was “Delicious”, something you don’t always hear about wine. It still has a few more years to improve, for those lucky enough to have some.

The dinner.


Baked potato. Brussels sprouts. Tenderloin. I made a quick mushroom gravy from a box of Pacific condensed cream of mushroom soup (picked up at Roots) that was heated with some sliced CSA button mushrooms. Salt and pepper.

It was something special. We still have half the tenderloin and half the gravy left. It will probably be Saturday night’s dinner, over a salad of baby spinach and bleu cheese.

I may never go to Ruth’s Chris again. I just need to get to Wegmans for a few more tenderloins to put away.



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What’s new in the world of warehouse shopping? Had my quarterly (or longer) trip over to COSTCO, mainly for allergy meds, toilet paper, aluminum foil, basic spices and nine volt batteries for the smoke detectors.

As usual, I find interesting things I decide to impulse buy. Like the pomegranates.


We are addicted to the pomegranate seeds. But, at $4-5 each (at Wegmans), we didn’t indulge much. Today I found a six pack for $13.99, which is a real bargain for something so much fun to eat.

We love them with yogurt, or on salads, or just to snack. I picked up some of our favorite Pequea Valley yogurt last weekend, vanilla, to pair with my spiced apples (made from those Larriland apples). Vanilla and pomegranate are a good match, too.

I also picked up a six pack of red peppers, to put on the grill.


There will be some ajvar made with these. As well as some roasted red pepper hummus. We have eggplant from the CSA for the ajvar.

Another major find this visit was the return of Pacific organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup. It isn’t always there. It is a staple to thicken soups that need a tomato kick, without sacrificing my stash of tomatoes and/or sauce.

I was looking to purchase some tuna to grill. The weather has been lovely. They didn’t have any tuna today. I picked up a couple of packs of wild halibut. One of my favorite white fleshed fish.


Seasoned with mustard, peach vinaigrette, pepper and thyme. Drizzled with lemon olive oil. Perfect with fingerlings and broccoli.


We don’t get to COSTCO often, now that it is 16 miles away. It is always a treat to go there and discover what’s new. And, stock up on staples and pantry items. And, nuts for Christmas cookie baking. It is getting close to that time, we know.