Happy Mystery Monday! This caterpillar was crossing one of our paths by the goats. Do you know what it is? Hint: it has a characteristic “button” on top of its rear end, which indicates it is at least half way through its life as a caterpillar.
The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore will be hosting an upscale resale event called the “She Shed” on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the old News Center location in Easton’s Talbot Town Shopping Center.
This indoor sale of upscale items will benefit the Club’s Scholarship Fund, which is a merit-based scholarship granted to a graduating senior who attends high school in Talbot County and plans to major in horticulture, landscape architecture or design, botany, environmental science, agriculture or a related field.
Garden Club members have been gathering all kinds of interesting and unique items to be sold, including Byers’ Choice Carolers, Limoges china, Italian pottery, Sur La Table, vases, yard art, furniture, beautiful glassware, decorative baskets, attractive flower pots, rugs, women’s accessories, collectable birdhouses and much more! Mark your calendar now to attend this wonderful sale and go home with irresistible treasures at amazing prices!
Last Friday night, after we had consumed copious amounts of Friday night pizza, we bid a fond farewell to Ted Lasso, our favorite sports figure. We were feeling a little sad after watching this season’s finale, and thought it would cheer us up to bake some of the biscuits Coach Lasso baked to ingratiate himself with his intimidating team owner, Rebecca. Apple TV+ has an official recipe, and then there is a fancier Milk Bar recipe, which claimed to be an improvement on the original. We then engaged in one of our favorite activities – a science fair experiment comparing recipes.
I had to explain who Ted Lasso is to the woman who cuts my hair. Between our masks and the roar of the hair dryers it was hard to convey the sweetness and the sly humor of the coaching staff of AFC Richmond, because she is a true crime TV aficionado, and had never heard of Ted Lasso. Sigh. In case you haven’t heard of Ted Lasso, it is a delightful Apple TV+ series about an American football coach who has been hired to coach an English football (soccer) team. It is less about football than it is about optimism. And kindness. It has been a genuine feel-good show through the depths of the pandemic. Go get a free trial subscription and catch up this weekend. It is goofy, poignant, and yes, there is some soccer. And biscuits.
It is difficult scientifically to prove which biscuit recipe tastes better, since the orginal is a fictional, magical biscuit that fictional, magical human Coach Lasso bakes every day. He might have a secret ingredient unknown to the corporate heads at Apple TV. Coach might have a little stash of pixie dust tucked away in a kitchen drawer with those little toy soldiers. Ted might imbue the biscuits with hope and optimism much needed on and off the pitch. And all we have is what we bring home from the grocery store, and concoct in the midst of our own messy lives.
We are rounding the corner, heading into baking season, and the holidays where little gifts of food are welcome. Go find some pink card stock, bring your butter to room temp, and prepare to mix up a batch of hope; you are on your way to the premier league. And do not, under any circumstances, buy pre-fab boxes. Make your own. These are deeply satisfying to assemble: http://www.saltharvestcreatives.com/-free_printable_ted_lasso_biscuit_box.pdf
This is the “official” streaming service-sanctioned recipe:
Ted Lasso’s Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 300° F.
Sift flour and salt, mix into bowl and set aside.
Mix butter on high speed until fluffy (3 to 5 minutes).
Gradually add sugar slowly, continuing to mix until pale and fluffy.
Add flour all at once and mix until combined.
Butter a square pan.
Pat and roll shortbread into pan no more than 1/2-inch thick.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Cut into squares.
Bake until golden and make sure the middle is firm, approximate bake time 45 to 60 minutes.
Now, here is a fancier version, as devised by Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame, who also believes in gussying up birthday cakes with acres of sprinkles:
Ted Lasso x Milk Bar Biscuits
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Heat an oven to 315 degrees and prepare an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugars vigorously until smooth.
Stir in the egg yolks. Add the flour and salt, mix just until the dough comes together. (“The less you mix the dough, the more positive vibes your biscuits will have,” according to Tosi.)
Using damp hands, press the dough in an even layer in the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a thin, golden brown layer forms on top. Let cool completely before cutting into two even columns and then six even rows. Arrange in pink boxes if you have them.
Yield: 12 Lasso-size slices
Here’s a link to Tosi’s famous birthday cake: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/momofuku-milk-bars-birthday-layer-cake
Food52 has a recipe for shortbread biscuits that is not for the faint of heart, or anyone in a hurry – they require 90 minutes of baking time. https://food52.com/blog/24156-how-to-make-shortbread-cookies-bien-cut-bakery
Ultimately, these are all well and good, tasty and dense, and are sure to brighten anyone’s day. But I prefer something a little less dense, and more crumbly. I like a classic shortbread, one that we bake when trying to recall a special trip to Scotland (without invoking the haggis experience). Granulated sugar and confectionary sugar are so different.
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks, cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
Heat oven to 325°F. Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs.
Press dough into an even layer in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, or a 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.
“I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” —Ted Lasso
University of Maryland Extension will host a Farm Wellness Fair at the 4-H Park in Denton on November 8, 2021 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The event will offer speakers, demos, vendors, and resources to support farmers’ and farm workers’ mental health and wellbeing. The event will also include the opportunity to earn two Maryland Pesticide Private Applicator credits. Lunch and snacks are included, and the event is free to attend.
The purpose of the Farm Wellness Fair is to connect the agriculture industry with tools and resources that support healthy, profitable farm operations. University of Maryland Extension has planned the event with the help of local experts, including Mid Shore Behavioral Health, Inc. “Farms are the backbone of our community, but our farmers are not always getting the support they need,” said Kathryn Dilley, executive director of Mid Shore Behavioral Health. “This event will help farmers learn about tools they can use to help their workers, family members, or even themselves with mental health and addiction issues.”
A 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control identified suicide rates to be significantly higher in the agriculture industry than the general population. Opioid use has also had an outsized impact on rural, farming communities. A Morning Consult survey sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union found that 74% of farmers and farm workers have been directly impacted by opioid use, either by a family member or someone in their network who has struggled with opioids, or by taking or becoming addicted to opioids themselves.
Shannon Dill, principal agent for the University of Maryland Extension, said, “Healthy farms are successful farms. That doesn’t just mean having healthy soil, crops, and animals, but healthy people as well.” Dill noted that investing in farm workers’ wellbeing is an important part of running a successful ag operation. “We constantly monitor the health of our crops and animals and look for signs that they’re struggling. It’s important to do that for our people too.”
The Farm Wellness Fair is free to attend and open to anyone interested in the agricultural community, including farmers, farm workers, family members, suppliers, and supporters. Registration is available at bit.ly/farmwellness.
The Farm Wellness Fair is hosted by University of Maryland Extension with grant support from AmerisourceBergen Foundation, an independent not-for-profit charitable giving organization focused on supporting health-related causes that enrich that global community. Other project partners include Mid Shore Behavioral Health, Inc., Farming4Hunger, Caroline County Health Department, Maryland Rural Health Association, Eastern Shore Mobile Crisis Response Team, Maryland Coalition of Families, and the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund.
An unshakeable rule in our house is that Friday night is pizza night. We are ready for the weekend to begin, but we are so exhausted from a week’s work that we can’t possible consider going anyplace. So we gather in the kitchen, pour some wine, turn on music, and warm up the oven while spending a couple of hours together crafting a pizza. It has been our weekly ritual for years, which was a good thing during lockdown, and continues to be our weekly aspiration as we try for the perfect pie.
I’m not sure what our perfect pizza pie is, exactly. Does it taste like the Pellicci’s pizza of my childhood? Pellicci’s is an Italian-American, red sauce restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut. It was where our family celebrated significant events and family milestones on the rare occasions we dined out. The crusty, fragrant bread was baked on site, the meatballs were oversized, the mounds of spaghetti were vertiginous, and the cheese pizzas were thin, and crisp, and scorched on the edges, with molten cheese. We were impressed that our parents knew how to fold pizza, like a paper airplane, before taking a bite. We didn’t appreciate then that they grew up eating at Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, the mothership of American pizza. They had skills. https://www.sallysapizza.com
We started making pizza at home when our children were young, and malleable. Pizza to them was not a treat or a ceremonial meal. They had cafeteria pizza for lunch in school. There were class pizza parties to celebrate honor roll announcements. Neighborhood birthday parties almost always rolled out a delivery pizza, along with a frozen grocery store sheet cake. The children were growing up on expensive, cardboard, industrial-complex-pizzas that had no soul. They actually liked the “butter-y” dipping sauce that accompanied one brand of delivery pizza. These were the grandchildren of original Sally’s Apizza aficionados, and we were ruining the bloodline.
We started slowly, making dough from a recipe in The Joy of Cooking, of all places to start, but those were the dark days before the internets, and Joy was my first resource. I still have photos of us, covered in flour, because the children were young, and kneading was an all-hands-on-deck proposition when you are trying to get children interested in their food, and how to make it. There are always math, geometry, and art lessons to be had when making pizzas. Eventually they tired of the dough-making process, and I would make it myself in the morning. They seemingly enjoyed the process of rolling out the dough, and adding the sauce and cheese, and finally, the eating. Sometimes we snuck in frozen pizza dough from the grocery store, but that wasn’t important: it was the Friday night ritual that had been firmly established.
Mr. Sanders and I can be found here almost every Friday night, rolling out the dough. Sometimes we post a video of the pizza as it emerges from the oven. Each week we enjoy our own apizza, and maybe you could, too.
Our dough, which has been evolving for 20-something years, is a variation on a Mark Bittman recipe: https://www.markbittman.com/recipes-1/pizza-dough For the past year we have been using a “00” flour, as suggested by my brother, the original family pizzaiolo, who still eats in New Haven pizzerias with regularity, and who bakes a mean pie. This flour has made a huge difference in the texture of the crust – it is lighter, and more flavorful, and makes an excellent crisp crust. For a while, the only place I could find it was on Amazon, but suddenly, the fancier grocery store in town is carrying it. https://www.amazon.com/King-Arthur-Flour-Specialty-American-Grown/dp/B08HZJ798S/ref=sr_1_7? For the formative years, though, we used all-purpose flour or bread flour, and made perfectly delicious pizzas. We are just showing off now.
Our take on pizza dough:
3 cups “00” flour
1 tablespoon yeast (I have been buying yeast in jars, because I am extremely cheap)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup warm water (I warm it in a teapot that has a thermometer – to about 120°F – any warmer and you will kill the yeast)
I use a fancy KitchenAid stand mixer, which would probably offend Sally’s soul, but the romance of kneading by hand wore off decades ago. I mix all the dry ingredients, then add the oil, and finally the cup of water. Sometimes I have to add a little more water, until the shaggy mess forms a dough ball. Then I run the mixer for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I take the ball of dough out and knead it on the counter, just to tidy of the ball. I put it in a mixing bowl, with a drizzle of olive oil, and cover the bowl with Saran Wrap, and pop it into the microwave for a day of rest. The microwave is a nice safe place; the dough is off of the counter, and the temperature stays constant. By around 6 o’clock, it has risen nicely, and is ready for transformation.
When we first started making pizza at home we had a standard issue electric oven. Now we have a slightly fancier gas oven. First we pop a pizza stone into the oven, and pre-heat to 525°F. Once the temperature reaches 525°, we set a timer for 30 minutes. We don’t have a coal-fired oven like Sally’s, but we can pretend. We started off using a standard cookie sheet, then graduated to a round pizza pan. Now, after all these years, we have lots of esoteric equipment: a metal pizza peel, a French rolling pin, the pizza stone, a stainless steel scraper, squeeze bottle for oil, and a gigantic pizza cutter.
Next comes the Friday Night Rite.
While the oven is heating, I grate an 8-ounce block of mozzarella cheese. Sometimes we use fresh mozzarella, but fresh tends to contain a lot of moisture, and can make a soggy pizza: use judiciously. We also employ freshly-grated Parmesan cheese with abandon.
I like pepperoni pizza best, and Mr. Sanders is a bon vivant who likes sausage, meatball, salami, proscuitto, ham, speck, kale, broccolini, peppers – you name it. Have these wild cards lined up on the counter, too. We cheat enormously with the pizza sauce. We stockpile jars of Rao’s Pizza Sauce when it is on sale. But leftover homemade spaghetti sauce is also a family fave. Use what makes you happy.
On a floured surface, divide the dough in half. We freeze one half, for emergency mid-week pan pizza, or garlic knots. Then Mr. Sanders rolls, rolls, rolls the pizza dough. (It took years to achieve a circle shape, so do not despair if you produce amoebas.) Using the rolling pin, he places it gently on the corn meal-covered pizza peel, which is essential to his art. Don’t forget the corn meal. (There is no other way to transfer an uncooked pizza to a hot pizza stone without a peel. We have been using a metal pizza peel for a couple of years which is much easier to ply than our old wooden one.)
Once the dough is on the pizza peel, Mr. Sanders squirts a couple of tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil onto the dough, and spreads it around evenly with the back of a spoon. A gentle reader suggested the garlic-infusion because the house becomes redolent with garlic: nothing says “home-made pizza” faster than walking through a wall of garlic. (We have a plastic squirt bottle filled with olive oil and a couple of peeled garlic cloves – instant pizzeria! Thanks, Jane!)
Then Mr. Sanders spoons on some sauce, not lots, because you want the pie to stay light and crisp. You’ll develop an eye. Then he scatters the mozzarella cheese, and judiciously arranges the toppings. When it is safe for indoor dining again, stop by a pizza joint, not a fancy place, and watch how the journeymen pizza guys scatter the cheese and toppings. They are fast, spare, and economical. Less is better.
Then transfer the pizza from the peel to the blazing hot pizza stone. This takes some practice. Set the timer for 8 minutes. Pour some more wine, light the candles, and prepare for glory. Homemade pizza. Divine.
Every week we sit in judgment – it’s never the best pizza ever, but it is always getting better. And the flops are forgotten quickly, because why else is there wine? Sometimes we achieve near-Pellicci’s quality, and we are always Sally’s-level aspirational. Someday we’ll get back to New Haven to compare. Until then, we always have Friday nights at home.
“But magic is like pizza: even when it’s bad it’s pretty good.” Neil Patrick Harris
As we slowly wind through the COVID labyrinth, skirting crowds, eschewing indoor dining, and devising our own small cooking triumphs, I have learned it isn’t enough just following last year’s trendy sour dough bread bake off. Sometimes we just need to make ourselves happy. We can indulge in little acts of kindness to ourselves, without going all Madison Avenue slick, or woowoo, and espousing themes of “self-care”. Sometimes we just need the comfort food. To have a treat.
Comfort food doesn’t need to be fancy or laden with calories and fat. Comfort food can remind us of our mothers (cinnamon toast), our college roommates (Kraft Mac & cheese, the stuff in the box, with the orange powder) or restaurant meals we enjoyed years ago (burrata and grilled tomatoes). They can help us relive of our child-rearing years – I just bought a bag of Goldfish because we ate so many of them when our children were little, and life was good with fistfuls of Goldfish or Cheerios. Remember, Proust wrote a 7-volume novel because of a bite of a Madeleine cookie.
I just started listening to a new podcast as Luke the wonder dog and I make our neighborhood rounds: FT Weekend, from the Financial Times. It contains only the amusing bits of news that end up in the Financial Times’s weekend magazine. (Trust me, the financial news is not my usual podcast fare.) This week they were talking about the coping mechanisms people were developing to get through the COVID lockdowns. A man in England they cited, rode his bicycle once a week to buy 6 oysters on the half shell. He would sit on a park bench, swallow the oysters, get back on his bike and pedal back to the safety of his home. That was his treat, his indulgence; his brain treat. (Treat Brain: https://www.ft.com/content/1c5a18a1-9b0f-4b16-912b-1aeb60a63162)
When I was in high school, we used to walk down the hill after school to a deli that made excellent meatball subs (except in Connecticut, in that era, they were called grinders*). I remember feeling thrillingly independent buying such an exotic sandwich – something that we never had at home. It was hot, and filling, and the melted mozzarella cheese stretched forever. The memory of those grinders wafted through my brain the other day, and I had to treat myself.
It seems silly to have a recipe for a meatball sandwich, but maybe you have never tried your hand at one before. I would say to include plenty of mozzarella cheese, though, which is strangely missing from this recipe: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/italian-meatball-subs/ And I would also say that you should have a side of a large bag of UTZ sour cream and onion potato chips, because who really would have a fruit salad when plumbing the depths of a high school food memory? And maybe a real, 100%, full-throated Coke. This is a one-time treat. Not the rest of your life. And then take a good, long walk. Luke is available.
Since movies have been off limits for a year and a half, we have been having movie nights at home, complete with big bowls of hot, salty, buttery, wonderful popcorn. I will have a weekly bowl of popcorn before I would ever have 6 oysters on a half shell, but that’s me. It’s not quite as magical as sitting in a movie theatre, but the popcorn is better, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Also, there are no annoying people texting.
We also have a comforting weekly ritual of making pizza on Friday nights. Which we will talk about next week. Maybe I will freeze a couple of meatballs for that event. In the meantime, remember your mask, and try to enjoy yourself.
“With enough butter, anything is good.”
Old Wye Mill is now offering for sale flour made from einkorn — an ancient grain that is delicious for baking and low in gluten. The einkorn is sourced from farmer Gerry Godfrey’s Mount Zion Farm[mountzionorchard.com/einkorn]in northern Caroline County, MD and milled into flour on Old Wye Mill’s water-powered grindstones. It is available for purchase during open hours or by appointment.
Einkorn (Triticummonococcum) was first cultivated about ten thousand years ago in the Middle East, where it still grows wild. By breeding it with other plants, early farmers created our modern wheat (Triticumaestivum), which, compared to einkorn, yielded more grain; had a softer husk; and contained a highly elastic gluten.
The gluten in common wheat causes many people to experience inflammation and other symptoms. The Godfreys discovered that they could eliminate these symptoms by baking bread with einkorn, which has less gluten, and it is in a low-density form. Starting in 2019, they experimented with growing einkorn, and even created machines to remove and separate the tough hull. Now Gerry Godfrey delivers 50-pound bags of einkorn to Old Wye Mill regularly, and our Millers grind it into fine flour. Once milled, we keep it in a freezer to preserve freshness; we recommend you keep it chilled until you bake with it.
Baking with einkorn is very rewarding. The grain is small, but with a higher percentage of germ and bran – and thus offers a richer taste and more nutrients than modern wheat.
If you haven’t baked with einkorn before, try it first in biscuits, cookies, and pancakes. Bread, of course, is more dependent on gluten to produce a satisfying loaf. You can substitute a half-cup of einkorn for conventional flour to add a sweet, nutty flavor to your favorite bread. If you’re making an all-einkorn loaf, allow the dough to rest longer than you otherwise would to ensure that the moisture permeates the flour. (Einkorn flour absorbs water more slowly than conventional wheat flour.)
Here’s a recipe to try: [https://everydaydishes.com/simple-food-recipes/einkorn-dutch-oven-bread-video/]
Old Wye Mill is one of Maryland’s most remarkable places: the historic grist mill is the oldest continuously operated water-powered mill in America, and Maryland’s oldest continuously operating business.Flour from Old Wye Mill — sustainably delicious since 1682!
Old Wye Mill is located at 900 Wye Mills Road (Route 662), in Wye Mills, Maryland 21679, near the intersection of Route 662 and Route 404.
For more information, please contact the Old Wye Mill Administrator by telephone at 410-827-3850 or by email [email@example.com].
LYON RUM, the flagship spirit of Windon Distilling Company, is the 2021 Best Craft Rum Distillery in the annual USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards, making the small-batch distillery the recipient of the coveted title for the second year in a row.
Selected by a panel of industry experts and rum aficionados, LYON RUM is the only Maryland distillery ranked among the 20 finalists, for the past five years.
“We love rum and are thrilled to be honored as the best, and perhaps most beloved, rum distillery again this year,” says Jaime Windon, founder & CEO of Windon Distilling Company.
The distillery is currently in the process of renovating and expanding to offer an enhanced visitor experience, including a new tasting room and cocktail space, so that they can continue educating and delighting visitors on the versatility and nuances of rum, or as Windon refers to it, “America’s original spirit.”
“As a small brand embarking on our ninth year, it’s quite an honor to be nominated among these other great American rums. Even more rewarding is knowing that we have the support and love from the actual people who enjoy what we make. My job is to get the rum to those people – across Maryland, in both stores and restaurants, and also now, direct to their doorstep!” noted Jessi Windon, VP of sales, and the official rum runner of LYON RUM.
In addition to supplying the state of Maryland through its own wholesale division, LYON RUM is distributed across the Mid-Atlantic and areas of the South, in a total of nine states. Through special extended legislation, the distillery will continue its popular home delivery service – free to all Maryland zip codes – through the end of 2022, as well as offer direct shipping through a third-party retailer to over 40 states.
Head distiller Brett Steigerwaldt, who has been with the company since 2016, reflects that “Winning this title two years in a row is huge! It is confirmation that people are taking notice of the exceptional rums being made by our passionate and dedicated team – and this honor helps us continue to show the world the potential for American rum.”
In 2013 LYON RUM became the first rum in decades to be distilled in Maryland, and for the last 8 years the distillery has been a leader in the industry, working to further redefine the category of new American rum and advance the legislative goals of small distillers across the country. LYON RUM // Windon Distilling Company is a proud member of the Maryland Distillers Guild, the American Craft Spirits Association, the American Distilling Institute, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Jaime Windon serves on the DISCUS Craft Advisory Council, and also leads the Maryland Distillers Guild’s Legislative Committee.
LYON RUM // Windon Distilling Company
605 S. Talbot St. #6
Saint Michaels, Maryland