Yarnstorming is back! For the second year running, Adkins Arboretum is partnering with local yarn artists and the Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore (FACES) to create a whimsical and exciting visual experience in the trees around the Arboretum Visitor’s Center.
Also known as yarn bombing, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting and graffiti knitting, yarnstorming is an art form that employs knitted or crocheted yarn in place of paint or chalk. Fiber artists, both veterans and those new to yarn art, will adorn native trees with everything from pompoms to needle felted animals to branch and trunk wraps and hammocks for woodland creatures.
Yarnstorming creations will be on display March 6 through April 3 at the Arboretum, located near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. The public is invited to view the exhibit daily from dawn to dusk. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org.
Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.
Located in Denton, the Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore is a destination for the area’s many quilt and fiber art enthusiasts, visitors, and residents to view historic and recent works by quilters and fiber artists from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Delmarva Peninsula. For more information, visit fiberartscenter.com or call 410-479-0009.
We spend a lot of our time at home pinging like little pinballs between the television in the living room and the kitchen stove. There are some side trips to the laundry room to wash loads of laundry, and to the garage to deposit wine bottles in the recycling bin. That’s because we are leading an elegant home-bound pandemic life, dressed in our finest yoga pants and shapeless sweatshirts. Cooking, washing, eating, watching television. Thank goodness that Stanley Tucci has come along, to take us to Italy, at least on Sunday nights.
Stanley Tucci: nattily dressed, in scarves and jackets, slim and twinkling, is our cicerone to Italy. Remember travel? Remember getting gussied up to go some place? With vaccines on the horizon we have started to think of places we would like to go, and with Stanley Tucci beaming at us every week, the list is growing. Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy on CNN is an exploration of different regions and foods. Armchair travel is an excellent way to explore the world, but it leaves us yearning – with whetted appetites for someplace new and exotic. Thank goodness there is pasta.
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy https://www.cnn.com/videos/foodanddrink/2021/02/19/searching-for-italy-rome-2.cnn
It has taken me all winter to finally master this deceptively simple pasta recipe: https://www.thekitchn.com/samin-nosrat-pasta-cacio-e-pepe-22949332
It was worth the effort. It has amused me to stumble on this dish, only to find it everywhere. We first encountered it watching Samin Nosrat’s charming Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat series on Netflix. (https://www.netflix.com/title/80198288) I used to make a stodgy Fettuccini Alfredo with an extensive list of ingredients, back in our misguided youth. We are now Cacio e pepe converts.
I am always looking to simplify. Cacio e pepe satisfies our need for comforting, warming pasta, with fewer trips to the grocery store. It can be assembled quickly, whenever the yearning overcomes us. Spaghetti, black pepper and Pecorino cheese and olive oil all have long shelf lives. I was stupified to discover a pasta dish that didn’t need garlic!
When I walk Luke the wonder dog I listen to podcasts, because heaven knows what I would do with half an hour of my own thoughts. I enjoy the Table Manners podcast, as I have mentioned here before. There is nothing more cheering than listening to a couple of Brits nattering about their childhood lunches and their favorite meals. Trotting along behind the sniffing Luke, I listened to a guest, Elizabeth Olsen, chattering away with Jessie Ware and her mother about how much she enjoyed making cacio e pepe, because she enjoyed eating it at a very swanky Beverly Hills eatery. Jessie Ware asked her if it was hard to get the sauce to emulsify, and Elizabeth Olsen was stumped. She had skipped that step. Well, she is an actress, and not a cook. And the emulsification step is a little tricky.
And maybe Elizabeth Olsen had only cooked cacio e pepe once or twice. I have cooked it at least a dozen times now (I’ll do almost anything to avoid the grocery store – and Monday night is always Pasta Night in our house) and I think I can finally say that I have just mastered emulsification. And it is tricky damn woo. So when you get to that step, take your time. Add the starchy cooking water gradually. And stir, stir, stir. It makes a difference. You’ll get there.
I tried a variation on cacio e pepe recently. It is not for timid souls. I doubt if I will try it again. It called for using red pepper flakes instead of black pepper. It was fiery. But it did have lots of garlic. https://www.food.com/recipe/olive-oil-garlic-and-crushed-red-pepper-pasta-sauce-295835
Spring is on its way. So are the vaccines. While you wait, listen to a podcast or two. Try something new for dinner. Watch Stanley Tucci and Samin Nosrat and dream of warm Italian nights, sitting in a piazza, under strings of lights, drinking a nice rustic red with your friends and family. Bliss.
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
Don’t forget to watch Stanley Tucci in two other calorie-laden films: Big Night and Julie and Julia.
Old Wye Mill has just released a study by the Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory which dates the historic mill structure to the winter of 1753-1754. OWM commissioned Oxford to conduct the study as part of a comprehensive upgrade of its visitor experience, funded by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority through the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area. 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.
Dendrochronology is the science of dating events or artifacts using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in tree trunks. While long-known documentary evidence shows that a mill on the site in Wye Mills has been grinding grain since the 1600s, this study is the first to pinpoint the year that most of the structural timbers in the mill were harvested.
The study further examined some of the wooden components of the milling equipment, which were found to date from approximately 1841. In fact, OWM still uses milling equipment dating from the period 1790-1810, which was invented and possibly installed by Oliver Evans, America’s first great inventor and pioneer of industrial engineering. Also on the grinding floor is a roller mill for producing refined white flour installed by Winthrop Blakeslee, the last commercial miller, in about 1918. Thus Old Wye Mill demonstrates the continuity of grist milling from the early colonial period into the twentieth century.
“Old Wye Mill is a fascinating example of vernacular, industrial architecture of the mid-1700s,” said Michael Worthington, co-author of the study with Jane Seiter, “and its wooden framing has now revealed new information about the building’s construction.” Worthington took samples of twelve of the Mill’s structural timbers – all white oak — under the supervision of the Maryland Historic Trust, which holds an easement on the building, in September 2020 and January 2021.
The findings of the study, which can be found at [https://www.dendrochronology.com/WMMDx1.htmlwill be incorporated into the historical interpretation of the Mill. Visitors will learn about the processes of milling, the history of the building and its equipment, and how the Mill fits into the history of Maryland and America. Old Wye Mill will re-open after a year of closure due to the pandemic on May 1, 2021. Please check the website, oldwyemill.org, for updated information on hours and admission.
The dendrochronology study is part of a project which was financed in part with State funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.
For more information, please contact Old Wye Mill Administrator Rhonda Corder by telephone at 410-827-3850 or by email [firstname.lastname@example.org].
The Chestertown Spy checked in with our intrepid explorers for Part 2 of their continuing winter adventure as they travel west from the winter ice and snow of their home in Galena.
Despite state park closures, freezing nights in New Mexico, dust-storms in Arizona, and the usual rigors of camping, Justinian Dispenza and his sister Laurel continue to revel in the discovery of the west’s vast landscape of forest and desert.
And leave it to Justinian’s interest in native flora to discover how to make rope out of a local plant, once again proving that the planet sustains us even in an emergency situation.
Here the two explore Gila National Forest in New Mexico and Arizona’s Tonto National Forest At last contact the two were at Joshua Tree National Park in California and promise a review of their visit there.
As a cold rain falls on the Eastern Shore, we will warm up vicariously through their sunny travels.
The Eastern Shore Permaculture Institute is a resource for education and empowerment, taking back our food system. They focus on teaching courses on sustainable gardening, mushroom growing, soap making, wilderness survival and living skills, and ecologically friendly building practices.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about the Eastern Shore Permaculture Institute, see their Facebook page.
It’s cold and dark out there. Punxsutawney Phil was right. He called predicted this weather a few weeks ago from his burrow in gelid Pennsylvania. We have moved into another six weeks of winter, and my outlook is grim. We are stuck inside, with no promise of spring break in sight. The night is dark, and full of terrors. The sirens are shrieking their horrifying song; we need to prepare dinner yet again.
I am not in the mood to mince words, or garlic. I want the easiest, no-fuss, fewest-dirty-pots-and-pans kind of meals. I want everything to be ready at the same moment – numbers, timing, and patience not being my forte. Short of sticking a Stouffer’s Chicken Pot Pie in the oven, this seems to be the easiest, most nutritious option available: Sheet Pan Baked Salmon https://cafedelites.com/sheet-pan-garlic-butter-baked-salmon/
A delightful new world has opened for me. Let the scales fall from your eyes, too. Sheet pan meals are the only way to go this COVID winter. You can prepare your protein, your veg and your starch all in one place – and with the judicious use of foil or parchment paper, your clean-up is relatively painless. (Remember – you are the dishwasher – no one is going to help. ) Sheet pan cooking will leave you more time to rail about being cooped up and miserable. No, Gentle Reader. I am sure you will use this new-found leisure time wisely: working on strengthening your core, or finally reading Moby Dick, or surfing TikTok. February might be the shortest month – it is is also the darkest.
With just a little more than a week to go before we can enjoy the gentle zephyrs of March, let’s consider the myriad possibilities:
February 20: Sheet Pan Chicken with Tomatoes and Mozzarella https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sheet-pan-chicken-with-tomatoes-and-mozzarella
February 21: Sheet Pan Jambalaya https://www.cookinglight.com/recipe-finder/sheet-pan-dinners?slide=233783#233783
February 22: Celebrate George’s birthday with a sheet pan cherry pie. It is quite beauteous. Cake is overrated. https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/sweet-cherry-sheet-pan-pie
February 23: Sheet Pan Eggs – because time saved in the morning can salvage your whole day! https://food52.com/recipes/53458-sheet-pan-eggs
February 24: Radicchio Sheet Pan Panzanella https://www.tastecooking.com/sheet-pan-panzanella/
February 25: Roasted Vegetable Couscous https://www.marthastewart.com/1532522/roasted-vegetable-couscous-bowl
February 26: Sheet Pan Sausages and Brussels sprouts https://www.punchfork.com/recipe/Sheet-Pan-Sausages-and-Brussels-Sprouts-with-Honey-Mustard-NYT-Cooking
February 27: Warm Winter Vegetable Salad with Halloumi https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/warm-winter-vegetable-salad-with-halloumi
February 28: Sheet Pan Fajita Bake https://www.farmflavor.com/recipes/sheet-pan-fajita-bake/
Remember, spring is just around the corner. Cheer up. Make something deelish and easy for dinner tonight. It’s nice and warm in the kitchen. Make yourself happy. Every little bit helps.
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
― Ernest Hemingway
We are wandering into a big weekend – Valentine’s Day is Sunday. Forget about flowery sentiment. (And forget about the expensive short-lived, long-stemmed roses – hydrangeas are perfect whatever the occasion!) I will be dodging the chocolate calories which will be flying; fast and furious.
Mr. Sanders is a true believer in the healing powers of dark chocolate. Consequently he finds a way to consume it a few times each day. This he does with impunity, and without noticeable weight gain. I, who dwell in a real life world, cannot. I will partake, and even prepare, chocolate for ceremonial purposes, but will not eat it daily. Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion for me. I get to plan, execute, take a few bites, and then push my chair away from the table. Mr. Sanders can go to town.
We have holiday chocolate standard bearers: we always bake Boston cream pie for our birthdays. Christmas dinner calls for a flourless chocolate cake. Our traditional Thanksgiving requires a pecan pie, but the meal is made replete with the addition of a chocolate cream pie, topped with billowing whipped cream clouds, and curls of shaved Belgian chocolate.
This year Mr. Sanders will be home for Valentine’s Day, which is unusual. Most years he has been away at an annual out-of-town boat show, so I am accustomed to tucking a little box of fancy chocolates in his luggage, having scrawled a few plump Cupids with love-tipped arrows as a Valentine declaration. The boat show has been cancelled because of COVID this year, so we will be in the same town, eyeing each other over the dining room candles, toying with our wine glasses, heady with expectations that years (and years) of marriage bring. We will have a modest steak dinner, extravagant with asparagus, Béarnaise sauce and a lightly dressed green salad. And then there will be dessert.
Death by Chocolate is not appropriate this year. Mr. Sanders’s birthday is coming up soon, so we shouldn’t consider a Boston cream pie. A flourless chocolate cake is just too much for two reasonable people to eat, even over the course of a few days – it calls for a festive and rapacious crowd. Instead, we will exhibit a modicum of New England restraint, and will fall instead on a brace of exquisite éclairs. Homemade, of course.
Our friends at Food52 preach practice, practice, practice. So consider how versatile éclairs can be for many holidays: Valentine’s Day, Lunar New Year, Easter, April Fool’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and maybe have a side dish of them tucked away for Thanksgiving, just in case anyone is still feeling peckish. https://food52.com/blog/19579-the-perfectionist-s-guide-to-making-chocolate-eclairs
Paul Hollywood, of The Great British Bake Off, suggests using whipped cream for the éclair filling. I have had some very, very memorable éclairs filled with whipped cream. You can never go wrong. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pauls_chocolate_clairs_59944
Mary Berry, also of Great British Bake Off fame, has a fancier éclair, which is suitable for Easter: https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/recipes/all/mary-berry-religieuses/ Mary Berry is the master of crème patissiere, so you might have to have your own bake off to find which you prefer. See? The Food52 folks are always right; practice makes perfect éclairs.
We have been using King Arthur flours for all our baking lately: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/cream-puffs-and-eclairs-recipe
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett
Eric Groft, principal with Oehme, van Sweeden Landscape Architecture and a Fellow of American Society of Landscape Architects will present a lecture on the New American Garden Style on the Eastern Shore on Tuesday, February 23 at 11 a.m. via Zoom
The event is sponsored by the Talbot County Garden Club as part of its winter lecture series and is free and open to the public.
Groft will showcase how his work embodies sustainable and ecological practices while focusing on human connectivity and beauty. His design solutions optimize ecological sensitivity and manage life-cycle costs with features such as living roofs and walls, and stormwater capture and re-use.
The third and final lecture in the series is scheduled for March 24 and will feature a speaker from C-Change.
About the Talbot County Garden Club
The Talbot County Garden Club was established in 1917 to enrich the natural beauty of the environment by sharing knowledge of gardening, fostering the art of flower arranging, maintaining civic projects, supporting projects that benefit Talbot County and encouraging the conservation of natural resources. Noteworthy projects include maintaining the grounds of the Talbot Historical Society, Talbot Courthouse, Talbot Library, the fountain and children’s gardens at Idlewild Park and numerous other gardens and activities. There are currently a total of 109 active, associate and honorary members.