FF_Summer Corn

Food Friday: Summer Corn

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I am shocked. Shocked! Shocked to realize that we are in summertime wind-down, and I have only had corn on the cob twice! What have I been thinking? Corn is delicious, easy peasy, and totally beautiful. Look at those kernels! Symmetry, precision, uniformity – yet each is a tiny, individual microcosm of corn deliciousness. Prepare yourself for some genius corn recipes.

And yes, I realize that I am going against my cardinal rule of summer, and I will be turning on the oven, as well as the stove. Some pleasures are worth the extra heat in the kitchen. I plan to take everything out to the picnic table anyway, where I can enjoy a bit of a breeze, and watch the birds sail home. The mown grass smells particularly green at this time of year, and I have a nice chilly glass of cheap white wine. What could be better? Why having some melted butter dripping down my chin, of course!

My mother, as I am sure most mothers who came before us did, boiled the living daylights out of ears of corn. And yet, the corn still tasted like the golden miracle that nature intended. Perhaps, like lobster and popcorn, corn on the cob is merely a vehicle for butter. That is a conundrum I am willing to spend the next thirty years mulling over in my pointy little head.

I like to steam corn on the cob in a big pot, with just an inch of water, and a metal vegetable steamer. I like to use the big lobster steamer pot. This is a dramatic production. Mr. Friday likes to wrap the ears of corn in great sails of aluminum foil, dotted with big gobs of butter, which he then tosses onto the sizzling grill. I suspect he is reliving Boy Scout camping trips. If some of the corn isn’t burnt and charred then it hasn’t been properly grilled. Just in case you wondered how to tell it was done. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/07/best-basic-grilled-corn-food-lab-recipe.html

If you are of a more practical ilk, and like to cook one meal, and have viable leftovers, then this frittata dish is for you. Cook it once, and use it again for breakfast or lunch. It travels well, so you can nestle it in a brown paper sack and call it lunch. Or it could be the basis of a picnic. You can eat it with your hands when you are stuck in weekend beach traffic. It is a marvel! http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/08/frittata-bacon-corn-gruyere-dinner-in-20-recipe.html

I always cook too much corn – just look at the size of that lobster pot! With the extra ears of corn I have more than a few options for meals for the week. Those ever practical folks at Food52 have a great corn salad recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/37430-sriracha-lime-corn-salad

Summertime also means lobster time. We like to have a lobster fest at least once a summer, and this usually means lots of leftovers. Here is a budget-friendly recipe that brings the lobster fest feelings back home: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017627-corn-and-lobster-tart

If you would like to enjoy an elegant meal, then consider this corn soup recipe from the New York Times: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12665-summer-corn-soup

Think ahead! If you are particularly ambitious, and have bought a lot of sweet summer corn from your local CSA or farmers’ market, here is a recipe for corn relish that will distill summer for you, when you have forgotten how hot and grumpy you were in August; a little bit of summer sunshine for the long gray days of winter: http://www.daringgourmet.com/2015/07/19/homemade-sweet-corn-relish/

“I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Time for Tomatoes: 2nd Annual Tasting Event is August 13

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At long last, fresh tomatoes are in abundance again. To celebrate the fantastic flavors of vine-ripened, local tomatoes, Lockbriar Farms is hosting the 2nd Annual Tomato Tasting Event. More than 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes will be available for sampling.

2015-08-15-tomato-tasting-01The tomatoes will range in color from almost white to deep purple and they will vary in size from little cherry tomatoes to gigantic beefsteak tomatoes.

Not only can attendees sample as many tomatoes as they would like, they may also vote for the one they think tastes the best. If a home gardener is growing a tomato that they would like to share, they are encouraged to bring some to the event.

“Last year’s array of tomatoes was just overwhelming”, according to Sabine Harvey, Horticulture Program Assistant at the University of Maryland Extension. “I tasted so many fabulous tomatoes. As I result I am growing some of them myself this year.”

Some of Harvey’s favorites were Persimmon, an orange tomato that does indeed have a persimmon flavor and Joe Thieneman’s Australian Heart, a beautiful red tomato. However, none beat Harvey’s all-time favorite, an heirloom paste tomato called Gilbertie.

In addition to sampling tomatoes, attendees can also sample some dishes featuring tomatoes. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about growing and preserving tomatoes. Best of all, the heirloom tomatoes will be on sale for $2.99 a pound.

The event takes place on Saturday, August 13th from 11am until 1pm at Lockbriar Farms, located at 10051 Worton Road, Worton. The event is co-sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension Master Gardeners Program.

Food and Eco-Tourism Workshops

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MID-SHORE FOOD SYSTEM COALITION 1Join a round table workshop on “Food and Eco-Tourism on the Mid-Shore,” at any one of the upcoming sessions in the five-county mid-shore region. The first is coming up fast: Thursday, July 21 at noon at the Dorchester County Library.

Why attend? The aim is for you to leave the hour-and-a-half session with three new ideas for your business.  Share in strengthening the regional food systems with positive outcomes by personally involving you and your business in this economic development/marketing workshop.

The Mid-Shore Food System Coalition (MSFSC) is launching this first series of workshops to brainstorm new ideas and revenue streams with a focus on community resilience and triple-bottom-line sustainability.

Go to the MSFSC website www.MidShoreFoodSystem.org, to review the mission and goals as this initiative moves forward.

To reserve a space, please email director@midshorefoodsystem.org.

Additional “Food and Eco-tourism” sessions are planned for Tuesday, July 26, 8 p.m. at the Kent Library in Chestertown; Monday, August 1, 7 p.m. at the Caroline County Library in Denton; Saturday, August 6 at 10 a.m. at the Talbot Library in Easton; and Thursday, August 11 at 6 p.m. in Centerville at the Queen Anne’s County Library.

Harvest at Crow Begins with the Annual Vineyard Walk

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Harvest season is right around the corner and at Crow Vineyard & Winery that means it is time for the 5th Annual Vineyard Walk. Every year the start of harvest is marked by opening the vineyard to the public for a guided tour with vineyard manager, Brandon Hoy.

Antique carriage rides provide a wonderful way to view the vineyard.

Antique carriage rides provide a wonderful way to view the vineyard.

Guests can enjoy the beauty of the vines and grapes on foot or in the comfort of an antique horse drawn carriage, tour the winery with winemaker Catrina North, taste Crow’s award winning wines and enjoy appetizers featuring smoked Crow Angus Beef and creations from Martha Walton of Happy Chicken Bakery. Entertainment will be provided by musicians Tim and Christine Carroll. Have your photo taken by Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs and Photography while on your vineyard adventure.

Each year Roy and Judy Crow, owners of Crow Vineyard & Winery, choose a local non-profit organization as a beneficiary of the event with a portion of the proceeds donated to them. For 2016, Bridges at Worthmore has been chosen. Located in Kent County, Maryland, they are committed to using horses to foster personal growth and learning. Their programs include equine assisted activities such as adaptive riding, psychotherapy and learning.

Tickets are $30 ($25 for Crow Wine Club members) and are available online at crowvineyardandwinery.com or by calling the tasting room at 302-304-0551. For more information on Bridges at Worthmore please visit bridgesatworthmore.org.

Located in the rural heart of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Crow Vineyard & Winery is Kent County’s first winery. For more information visit crowvineyardandwinery.com or by email at crowfarmmd@gmail.com

Money to Help Many Maryland Homeowners Stay in Their Homes

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The state of Maryland wants you to stay in your home. They have funds available for many state homeowners to make repairs such as installing ramps and widening doors. It is called the Accessible Homes for Senior Homeowners Grant Program.

Grants, not loans, are provided to qualifying homeowners on a first come first serve basis. You must be over 50. The state also wants proof your income is 80% of AMI, which stands for area median income. You will also need a list of three bids from contractors with Maryland Home Improvement licenses.

Previously a loan program, this became a grant program in 2013. The thinking behind it is this: by keeping seniors in their homes , neighborhood stability is maintained. This also provides work for local builders, and helps other local suppliers. During fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016) the program provided $998,000 in 47 grants.

Contractor training and information is upcoming on two separate days from 11:30am – 1pm.

7/27/16 – Richard Henson Center, #2122, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University Blvd. S., Princess Anne, MD 21853 (Somerset County)
8/4/16 – Chester River Yacht & Country Club, 7738 Quaker Neck Road, Chestertown, Md. 21620 (Kent County)
Pamela Heyne is an architect with an office in Saint Michaels. pam@heynedesign.com

Food Friday : Salads – Hold the Lettuce

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Is there anything more boing than a lettuce salad? It is nothing but tasteless, crunchy water, slathered in oleaginous dressings, dotted with hot house tomatoes, sprinkled with stale croutons. Do you remember Bac’n Bits – those leathery maroon soy flakes that purportedly tasted like bacon? I am much happier now that I fry my croutons in bacon fat, and then crunch that real bacon up and scatter it on my salad, not overlooking a smackeral for my constant, dogging companion. How about orange French dressing? Now we can hurl a garlic clove into a bowl, douse it with good oil and vinegar and salt, and there we have it, the best salad dressing ever. Holy smokes, the times they are a changing, and everything salad-wise keeps getting better.

Personally I could never understand the appeal of the iceberg wedge salad. Whack a wedge out of a head of iceberg lettuce, dribble it in bottled blue cheese dressing, serve it on a minimalistic square plate and charge $9 for it. I could do that at home, except that I wouldn’t. I would rather eat something a little more flavorful and deelicious. How about you?

True confession: I violated my summertime rule about shunning the kitchen, or at least the hot stove, earlier this week. Once I had rooted around the internets looking for interesting salads, I must admit to you Gentle Reader – I boiled water. It is shameful, I know, but my cause was good and just, and ultimately, I got three meals out of that half hour of steam heat. I think it is a healthy ratio of time spent cooking compared to time spent eating nice, cool leftovers.

Spy Summer Farm Stand Salad

3 cups fusilli (or any macaroni product you have on hand – fusilli is very attractive and super hard to draw)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – or what you can approximate from the grocery store

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup diced cukes (I still like the seedless English variety, but use your fave)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or just chunk up some tomatoes from your kitchen windowsill)

1 ear of cooked corn – slice the kernels off, please

1/2 cup chopped peppers

1/2 cup snow peas

1/2 cup fresh green beans

1/2 cup asparagus tips

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed, or a handful of feta, or shavings of Parmesan

1/4 cup roughly chopped Vidalia onion

1/4 cup chopped celery for lots of crunch!

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Maldon salt

In a large, large bowl: add the crushed clove of garlic, and whisk it with the olive oil and vinegar. Add the red pepper flakes, and some Maldon salt.

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain in a colander, rinse with cool water, and shake the water off like a good dog. Add the pasta to the big bowl of garlic and oil. Toss the pasta until it is evenly coated with the good garlicky oil. Set aside.

Boil up another pot of water and toss in the asparagus, peas and beans for a minute or two, just until everything looks as bright green as the first grass in spring. Drain in the colander, and quickly dump them into another bowl filled with ice and ice water, to halt the cooking. Kazaam! Crunchy, green vegetables ready to mingle with your delicious pasta.

Now toss everything together, tear into some French bread, and have a fortifying glass of cheap white wine. You can repeat this as a side dish tomorrow night, and then have it for lunch the day after that. Feel free to embellish – you can add chicken, shrimp, salami, olives, artichoke hearts, sprouts, roasted red peppers, basil, flat leaf parsley – you name it. You can even serve it on a bed of lettuce.

“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.”
-M.F.K. Fisher

August 2016 Skywatch: Planets and Meteors

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I often feature the planets we can observe in our night skies in this column because they stand out so well and because one can get a thrill knowing that they are seeing another distant world in our Solar System. August’s warm nights this year offer plenty of good planet viewing. No fewer than 5 planets show up soon after sunset. And this month the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, always the best one of the calendar year, peaks in the pre-dawn hours of August 12th.

The planet show begins in early evening twilight. As August begins, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter form a straight line. Venus is closest to the horizon; Mercury is to Venus’ upper left, and Jupiter is at the top of the line. Venus is the brightest of the trio, at magnitude –3.9, and should be easy to spot 1/2 hour after sunset. Jupiter, though dimmer at –1.7, will have greater altitude, so it should be easy to see. But binoculars will likely be necessary to see Mercury, about 8 degrees to the upper left of Venus.

From August 4th through August 6th the crescent Moon will appear to pass through the sky where the trio of planets are found. On the 4th the Moon will be just left of Mercury, with both objects 6 degrees above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset. On August 5th the somewhat fatter Moon will be just below Jupiter, and on the 6th the Moon will be above and left of Jupiter. The Moon being close to the planets will help point them our to us.

During August the orbit of Venus will make it appear to climb steadily away from the Sun, while Jupiter will look as if it is sinking down toward the Sun. This will set up a very close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on August 27th. Indeed the two planets will appear closer to each other than at any time since May of 2000! They will almost appear to merge! Telescope views will put Venus and Jupiter together in the same field of view. And binoculars will separate this stunning planetary pair and will also reveal Mercury 5 degrees to their lower left.

After this great conjunction, the orbits of Venus and Jupiter will cause them to appear to separate. On August 31st Venus will be 4 degrees to Jupiter’s upper left. Mercury’s orbit will have taken it down toward the Sun by then, where it will be lost in the Sun’s glare.

After the skies darken fully look south where two more planets, Mars and Saturn, will be found. Mars the brighter and appearing reddish at magnitude –0.8 is on the border of Libra and Scorpius, almost due south some 10 degrees above and right of Antares, the reddish and brightest star in Scorpius. Saturn glows yellowish at +0.3 magnitude and sits just above Antares. A gibbous Moon will be seen 8 degrees above Mars on August 8th.

Mars’s orbit takes it east (left as we face it) for 3 weeks in August and it enters Ophiuchus on the 21st, passing 2 degrees above Antares on the 23rd, and in line with the star and Saturn. On the 25th, Mars will be 4 degrees below Saturn.

Turning attention now to the Perseid Meteor Shower which peaks on the morning of August 12th over in the northeast sky. The Perseids always rank among the best meteor showers of the year, and 2016 could be exceptional. Some experts are saying the rate of meteors could reach 150 per hour —- some 50% higher than typical years. The reason is because Jupiter’s gravity recently tugged the stream of debris from the Perseids parent Comet, 109B Swift-Tuttle, closer to Earth’s orbit. It should be good anyway, so look northeast anytime form 1 am to dawn on the morning of August 12th.

Moon phases for August: New — Aug. 2nd; 1st Quart. — Aug. 10; Full — August 18; and Last Quart. — Aug. 24.

Shore Wine: Vintage Atlantic Wine Region Comes to the Delmarva

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“Our primary objective is to provide cross-pollination among the many wineries in our four state region,” stated Scott Donnini, of Auburn Road Vineyards, and one of the board members with Vintage Atlantic Wine Region. The relatively new organization held an informational meeting at Crow Vineyard recently. The group exists to promote its 40+ winery members throughout Eastern Maryland, South-Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey, with a variety of promotional undertakings. Chuck Nunan, Harvest Ridge Winery, another board member, noted that cross-pollination is meant to increase awareness among winery business members and the consuming public.

Chuck Nunan (left); Scott Donnini (right)

Chuck Nunan (left); Scott Donnini (right)

As one of its first activities, Vintage has prepared a map and guide, (found on their website and with hard copies available at member wineries), which lists not only wineries, but also breweries, distilleries, restaurants, B&B’s and other sites of interest within the 90-mile radius area. Also highlighted are the eight wine trails within the region. “The idea of a map came to me while visiting the wineries in the Finger Lakes Region in New York State. I relied upon that map frequently while traveling there, and it became quite dogeared,” said Donnini.

Regional promotion helps all of us, noted Judy Crow, Crow Vineyard & Winery, and also a Vintage board member. “This is an industry built on high levels of cooperation among wineries, not the fierce competitiveness you see in other industries. Most of our customers enjoy visiting wineries, and we frequently send them to other wineries; those wineries do the same for us. Some of our visitors even know the exact driving distances from one vineyard to another.” By promoting other wineries, members find, they are in fact, helping themselves. Indeed, many member wineries were in attendance at this meeting: Clovelly Vineyards, Chateau Bu-De Vineyard & Winery, Chestnut Run Farm, Auburn Road Vineyards and Harvest Ridge Winery.

Highlighting the importance of Vintage’s efforts, and offering cooperative support, was noted by others in attendance; Heather Ersts (a native of Church Hill) and Leslie Troy, both from the Maryland Department of Commerce, Tourism Development, and Bernadette Bowman, Director, Kent County MD Office of Tourism Development. “The activities of Vintage dovetail perfectly with what we do,” noted Ersts.

Maryland wines are starting to capture wider recognition. Just recently, for example, Crow Vineyard & Winery captured six medals with winning entries in the San Francisco International Wine Competition (July 1, 2016, http://www.sfwinecomp.com/). Crow’s wines stood above 4600 entries, with its 2015 Rose earning a Gold medal (within one point of Double Gold). That same wine also earned the Maryland Comptroller’s Cup 2016, Best In Category award. “The grapes of our region are producing quite compelling wines, on both a national and international scale,” noted Catrina North, vintner for Crow Vineyard & Winery.

Colchester Farm CSA to Host Honey Extraction Workshop

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Are you new to beekeeping? Get ready to reap the sweet rewards.

As part of its Second Saturday Series of educational programming, Colchester Farm CSA will host a Honey Extraction Workshop this Saturday, July 9. The free event will be held at Colchester Farm, 2– 4 p.m.

Participants will learn how to remove the wax cappings from the frames, how to use a hand-cranked extractor, and how to bottle the honey.

Also coming up in the series: a Food Preservation Workshop on August 13, and a Mushroom Cultivation Class on September 10. Participants may offer donations on a sliding scale of $30/25/20. For more information, please visit www.colchesterfarm.org.

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