Monday, June 30, 2008

Fruit to Beautiful Delicious Yummy

Oh boy...Ho-made Mixed Berry Jelly!

Maryland Wines

We had a beautiful weekend. Berry picking. Amazing BBQ. And wine. Perfect really. The weather was predicted to be oppressive and unruly. Turns out it was just a twitch over hot with a dab of humidity and the occasional breeze helped that out. There were a few moments of sprinkles, but overall, a very nice day.

J-lo, Caroline (aka The Sommeliatrix) and I truly enjoyed the day. Here are some photos from our time at Elk Run Vineyards and Loew Vineyards. The Sommeliatrix sent some great words about the wines & wineries...enjoy:
We visited the admirable Elk Run Vineyards in Mt. Airy, MD - admirable because its wines come from varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling, which are hard to grow in humid Maryland where they can rot. The young Syrah, the spicy Cabernet Franc, and the dry but fragrant minty pineapple Gewurztraminer all got high marks. A suprise was the raisiny chocolately port, made from Cabernet Sauvignon - delish.

Two miles down the road was Loew Vineyards, a charming winery with an extensive selection, made all the more charming by owner/wine pour'er Lois. Her husband's family made wine in Lvov Poland/Ukraine until WWII - they even have a wine label from 1860! There, we discovered and tasted a red wine blended from Marechal Foch and Millot hybrids. Interesting - it was made like a Beaujolais, where fermentation occurs, not by crushing grapes and adding yeasts, but inside of the whole uncrushed grape. Just tell your friends the process is called Carbonic Maceration, and they'll nod their heads like they know what you're talking about. It had some of the fresh fruity notes you find in a Beaujolais but very high acidity - its hallmark. S&J will have to tell more about Loew's blueberry dessert wine when they open their bottle.

Go forth and support your local winery!

Barrels waiting for some love.


Checks, Circles, Underlines, All sorts of notes. The Elk Run tasting room offers two price points for the tasting. $2 for 5 wines, $5 for 5 wines, plus the glass. The Loew's tasting is gratis and we had 6-8 tastings.

The beautiful vines and blue sky!

The Seyval Blanc grape.

It is what it is. A small, independent winery. No frills. After our tasting, we were taken into the back to see the barrels, fermantation tanks and all the other fun stuff for wine making! We do have a bottle of the blueberry wine. We'll let you know how it is. I generally don't go for the fruit/berry wines, but this sounded interesting.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I couldn't be happier at this moment.

So after the great berry pickin'...we needed to eat. We worked up an appetite.

Well, I'm ready to drive an hour away for this meal AGAIN! And AGAIN! And AGAIN!!!

Barbeque & Grilling Company
235 South Main Street
Mt. Airy, MD

This has been one of the best BBQ meals I've had. Period. Done. Over.

I had the pulled pork slider plate (above). I three little sandwiches and had a different sauce with each. One a little tangy, one a little smoky and one that was just down right brilliant! And beer battered french fries. I KID YOU NOT.
Pulled pork sandwich with black raspberry sauce and mac & cheese.

Seriously. I can't describe the tastiness of this meal. The pork was tender and succulent. The sauces were each unique and satisfying. The best one, the most unique was the award winning Black Raspberry Grilling Sauce. 1st place; Nation's Best at the DC BBQ Cook-off. I bought a bottle for home use! The sauce was lightly sweet and full of many complex flavors. Beautiful complement to the smoky pork.

Two meat plate; pulled pork and brisket with the slightly tangy sauce.

After lunch we went out for two wine tastings. Elk Run Winery and Loew Vineyard in Mt. Airy. A beautiful day. When I have some more time to ruminate on the wines I'll share some notes.

Pickin' My Own

Click photos to embiggen!

We took a trip to our favorite pick your own farm today and got some berries! Blueberries. Sweet Cherries and a handful of black raspberries (not fully in season.) What fun. Great for family fun day in the country.

2415 Woodbine Road
Woodbine, Maryland 21797

The cherry pickin' game

Slightly tart sweet cherries.

1/2 pound of black raspberries.

About three pounds of sweet cherries.

We got five pounds of blueberries!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hot Tamale Pie

Last night's dinner was the Tamale Pie I made awhile back. Two plus years back! You can find the recipe here.

This really is an easy dish, cheap to make and fairly quick. There are plenty of options for changing things up. The way I made this last night improved the flavor and made for a very delicious casserole dinner.

Start with some ground beef, onions, jalapeno. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and some chili powder of your choice. I have some smokey chipotle chili powder with brought a lovely mild heat and slight smoked flavor. If you prefer, you can use ground pork, chicken, turkey. Your choice.

Add some corn and let simmer and bubble for a little bit while you move to creating the base of the dish.

Mix some cornmeal and some water in a dish. Season liberally with salt & pepper. You do this step to prevent lumps in the cornmeal. You don't have to take this step, but it's helpful. Then you bring some water to a boil and pour this mixture in. Simmer and stir for a few brief minutes to make a creamy base. Add a pat of butter for extra richness. You can use some chicken broth/stock if you like, instead of water for more flavor.

Pour your cornmeal porridge in the bottom of a baking dish and spread evenly. Allow to set for a minute.

Sprinkle the cornmeal base with shredded cheese. This is an optional step, but a tasty step.

Spoon the meat/tomato mixture over the cornmeal base, spread out.

Add some more cheese and place in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375 until...

melty, gooey and all sorts of cheesey.

Serve hot and enjoy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Breakin' News

This just in...I will not, repeat: will not, be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner ON Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, 2008.

This year we will be traveling north to The Garden State/Big Apple for that weekend.

The good news...I will host a Turkey Dinner, but the date has yet to be selected and invitations will be sent later.

Those of you who normally join us, please accept my apologies in advance and know we'll include you for the turkey dinner with all the tastings and fixin's when that is planned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Sure. They are a little cute. But this little devils...I'm thru with them.

They thwarted us time and time again with the bird feeder...until we finally got them. Vaseline on the pole...they can't get to it!

Then there were the roses. They ate our roses and broke two major stems of the rose bush.

And now.

NOW they have done it.

I mentioned earlier in the week we were on track to eat our first tomato. Well. Guess what. We weren't the only ones excited. Not only did they eat the ripe, red tomato, they pulled off a green tomato and ate half of it. Not even the whole thing. They picked it off the plant. Moved it at least ten feet away and ate only half it.

AND THEN...they went over and busted off two major stems of the blackberry bush and ate the berries...and they got the blueberries...

I'm done. They better watch out. This is war.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm a Jerk

This sandwich was so totally satisfying. Jerk Pork Sandwich.

Yes, I know...pork two nights in a row. But worth it.

I had a thin pork chop, maybe a half an inch thick. So I sliced it in half, so it was about a quarter of an inch thick. Seasoned with some jerk pork seasoning. Cook for about one minute per side. Put on a toasted, buttered bun.

Super fast. And really satisfying with those not locally grown tater tots!

Pulled BBQ Pork

This weekend was another Cheverly Community Market weekend. I didn't prep any featured recipe to share, but was there to talk about wine! Caroline Hermann joined me to discuss food/wine pairings and we provided an info sheet on hosting your own wine/food tasting with three types of wine and three different, simple foods. I'd love to share the document, but I have no idea how to load a PDF to Blogger. Any ideas? The market was low-key this weekend, but we had fun anyway!

Last night's dinner was all about the market! Three of our main components came from the market. One boneless pork loin roast. One container of Mesquite Spice Rub from Vann's Spices. And one dozen Parker House rolls. All three were amazing.


Pulled BBQ Pork 2 (Pulled BBQ Pork 1, HERE)

I started with a 2 1/2 pound roast and two-three tablespoons of the spice rub. Liberally coat the roast with the spices and rub in. I put the roast in the fridge and let it sit over night.

The next day I pre-heated the oven to 300 and got the dutch oven going on the stove over medium high heat. With a few tablespoons of olive oil over high heat, sear the roast on all sides. When you have a nice crust, remove the roast to a plate and drain off the excess oil/fat.

Add one large onion, diced and a small handful of crush garlic cloves. Allow to sweat for a few minutes until they start to carmelize. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of hard cider. Add one can of whole, peeled tomatoes. Add one dash of liquid smoke (if you like) and a dash of Worcheshire sauce and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Bring to a simmer. Return roast to the pot and place in the oven. For FIVE hours!!!

Everything in the pot will be beautiful, rich and so tender!

Remove the roast to a baking sheet to cool. Now we'll make our BBQ sauce. And here's where it gets tough. I didn't write anything down! Add one 8oz can of tomato sauce. 1 tsp cider vinegar. 1 tsp each of cayenne pepper, chimayo chile powder, ancho chile powder and chipotle chile powder. 1 tsp ground oregano. Salt & pepper. A little more brown sugar. Allow to simmer and bubble. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Oh, I added a very tiny pinch of cinnamon and ground clove.

While the sauce is bubbling. Pull the pork. Discard any pieces of fat or connective tissue. I cut the large pieces with a spoon. Yes, a spoon. The pork was so tender I barely had to apply any pressure with a spoon to cut it! AWESOME!

Take a roll of your choice. If you have access to the Parker House rolls the market. Get them! Add a heaping pile of the pulled pork and dress with as much sauce as you like.


The pork was wonderful! The spice rub brought a lot of great flavor to the party. Without the sauce, the braised pork was still full of great flavor. It took several little tastes to get the sauce exactly the way I wanted it. A tiny bit of twang, nicely sweet; not cloyingly so. And enough heat to say hello, but not to smack you in the face!

For dessert we had more rolls with Martha's Jam; Strawberry Kiwi that we also got at the market. Wonderful!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Neighbors


I can't say I'm surprised.

I brought a bucket of goodies out to the compost pile this morning and decided I needed to investigate the greenery growing in the middle of the pile. I thought one of two plants based on what I have tossed in the pile...turns out I was right.

Mr. and Mrs. Potato moved into my compost pile and were setting up a home. They seemed happy, but I took upon myself to move them into the more appropriate residential area for them in the garden. How great is that? I get potatoes without half the work.

We grew potatoes in the garden when I was a kid, so I know they are easy to grow. And who hasn't accidentally sprouted some potatoes in the pantry?! It's still a nice surprise to see them out in the dirt pile!

In other gardening news; we'll be eating our first tomato this week! One of the fruits are moving along the color scale to deep orange. We're very excited.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I do cook...

I do...really...I just haven't been blogging about it. I've been a little lazy and some what uninspired. Hopefully I'll get my groove back soon. If not, maybe a trip to Sunny San Diego will help me. But that's a few weeks away.

Tonight's dinner was Indian Butter Chicken. Great as always. And I made enough sauce to freeze for two batches of dinner at a later date! Mmmm.

And I'm proud to announce the arrival of our little darlings. So pretty! I still have no idea exactly what they are, but now that we have blossoms I can look them up and do a little taxonomical identification.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More garden excitment

Another garden update...since I haven't done much cooking in the past week...and there has some some blossoming in the back.

These are the giant 8 foot lilies growing in the back. They are about to explode open in the next few days. I can't wait. It's like a 'baby watch'...when's it going to happen!??!?!

Here are the full lilies. When they are standing up fully, they are over 8 foot tall (they need to be propped). And to think they first sprouted out of the ground in March!

This is something new as well. The plants are about 1-2 feet tall and these flowers are popping out and hanging nicely.

There are three hydrangeas in the back. One all white. One very very pale pink/purple and this one.

In the back, hiding the rear of our shed are large clumps of more lilies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!

Pancake Batter in a squeeze cheese can??? What the frak?

The review is actually a positive review; but I have to ask...why not just make your own pancake batter?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A'la Orange

The sun was shining nicely in the house this morning and I snapped a few (50+!) photos of an arrangement of cut flowers I was able to bring home after an event. Thought I'd share one of my favorite colors!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are You Eating a Third-Hand Tomato?

Article Source:

STOP! Before you take another bite, you might want to consider that your food choices have a much bigger impact than you could ever imagine. Nothing beats the flavor of field- ripened Maryland tomatoes harvested at the height of their ruby blush. These tomatoes are planted and harvested using good agricultural practices which renders them disease free and miles fresher.

Many store tomatoes were picked somewhere west or south of Maryland, sold to a broker, and then sold to the grocery-store chain for distribution. That’s a third-hand tomato. Supermarkets consider produce to be locally grown if it produced within a 12 hour drive of their store, or roughly within a 600 miles radius. The National Association of Farmers Markets has two types of “local” definitions. Local is defined as a radius from the market in which case 30 miles is ideal, but up to 50 miles is acceptable for larger metropolitan areas. Or, the definition of local may be a county boundary or other geographic boundary such as a National park.

Why should you purchase locally grown food? Buying local keeps your food dollars circulating in your community. Local farmers act as trusted producers of health food and are the stewards of ecosystems and watersheds. Their fields discourage urban sprawl, promote sustainable developments, and protect farmland. Buying local food helps make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive.

Buying locally grown Maryland produce is easy. Here are some simple tips.

Plant your food dollars close to home. When you buy local food, you vote with your food dollar. This ensures that family farms in Maryland will continue to thrive and that healthy, flavorful, and plentiful food will be available for future generations.

1. Shop at a:
2. Join a CSA or Produce Subscription Service

3. Patronize supermarkets that purchase produce from local growers.

4. Patronize restaurants that use ingredients from local producers.

5. Ask your food supplier about the exact sources of their food.

Lunch Lady Land

Last night I threw together some sloppy joe's using some locally raised ground beef we purchased at the Cheverly Community Market. They are easy, tasty, filling and make me want to sing!

Ground beef, onions, green peppers.

Herbs & Spices

Tomato paste

Water, Cider vinegar and a splash of Worchestshire suace. Simmer until just sloppy. It didn't even cross my mind, but next time I might try some broth instead of water to add another layer of flavor.

Sloppy Joe
Slop, Sloppy Joe
Sloppy Joe
Slop, Sloppy Joe
Hoagies and Grinders
Hoagies and Grinders

There was a time I laughed at everything Adam Sandler did. It's been awhile.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A little hick-a-ma!

For my first true venture back into the kitchen in what feels like two weeks, we fired up the grill for some fail beef...sorry beef...I'm still learning. We had a baked potato and a version of my tasty jicama salad. If you haven't tried jicama yet, please do. Well, it's not that jicama is great; it just takes flavor well and has a fun, crisp texture.

Peel and slice some jicama.

Add some roasted peppers and roasted corn.

Toss with the vinaigrette and cilantro. Tasty! Fast and great on a warm evening.

Now...I need to figure out grilling beef. I rarely cook steaks. I feel they are not very forgiving to improper cooking and I have some learning to do. Tonight I overcooked the steaks...alot! Which is a shame because I gave them the Gucci treatment and that usually yields a nice flavor and texture. But not tonight. We have one more steak in the freezer...I'll give that a try and see how it time.