Food Friday: Back Into the Kitchen

Summer ended last week. It is time to reacquaint yourself with the pots and pans and woks and cast iron skillets and cookie sheets that are going to be your seasonal life savers. Turn up the heat and welcome back to the kitchen.

I have some favorites that will be coming back into rotation now that I can’t foist most of the evening grilling on Mr. Friday. And I am relying on one of my favorite food resources, The New York Times.

Some folks have headed back to college, and have gone off their comfortable meal plans, and are fending for themselves for the the first time. There is more to life than ramen noodles and cold pizza. The rest of us come crawling into the kitchen each night, and wonder what on earth we can possible make for dinner without feeling totally keelhauled. Before heading directly for the cheap white wine (although it will be time to switch up to a nice inexpensive Malbec soon!) I want to point out that here are some basics that work without much risk of disappointment or failure.

These are easy peasy, as we are wont to warble. Throw that chicken in the oven and let the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast amuse you with their take on the intricacies of modern culture. And now you can have some wine. http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/culturegabfest/2016/09/slate_s_culture_gabfest_on_don_t_breathe_high_maintenance_and_harry_potter.html

Fettuccine Alfredo: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9025-elaines-fettuccine-alfredo?smid=fb-nytdining&smtyp=cur

If that seems too fancy, here are eight, 8, ways to make mac & cheese: http://cooking.nytimes.com/68861692-nyt-cooking/961504-amazing-ways-to-do-macaroni-and-cheese

Salmon, for the fish eaters: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/5703-salmon-roasted-in-butter

Cast Iron Pan Steak: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016334-cast-iron-steak

Bearnaise to go with that fine steak: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017389-bearnaise-sauce Because if you are going to hell, you might as well go in style. Yumsters.

Because you really could have spaghetti every night.
Spaghetti: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016833-spaghetti-and-drop-meatballs-with-tomato-sauce

It took me years, YEARS, to get rice right. Here is a never fail approach: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016673-cant-miss-rice

Craig Claiborne’s Beef Stew: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1321-craig-claibornes-beef-stew It is going to get chilly, honest.

Even easier is a good meatloaf. Although if your household is anything like ours, you have some ancestral meatloaf recipes in place already. Still, does yours count pancetta among the ingredients? Doubtful. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012686-fancy-meatloaf

And here is the definitive list of the New York Times’s 50 most popular recipes: http://cooking.nytimes.com/68861692-nyt-cooking/3238216-our-50-most-popular-recipes

You are on your own for salads and desserts. For this week, at least. Next week – breads!

“No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.”
-Christopher Morley

Garden Club of the Eastern Shore Lecture

author-photo-copyCan a Garden Have Everything? with Colston Burrell, Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM, sponsored by the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore at the Acadeny Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, MD.

C. Colston Burrell is an acclaimed lecturer, garden designer, award winning author and photographer. Cole is an avid and lifelong plantsman, gardener and naturalist. Cole is a popular lecturer internationally on topics of design, plants and ecology. He has shared his encyclopedic knowledge of plants and his abiding respect for regional landscapes with professional and amateur audiences for 40 years. He is principal of Native Landscape Design and Restoration, which specializes in blending nature and culture through artistic design. In 2008 Cole received the Award of Distinction from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers for his work promoting sustainable gardening practices.

birdhill1Cole worked as curator at the U.S. National Arboretum and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. He has devoted a lifetime to studying native plants in the wild and in gardens which lead to undergraduate degrees in Botany and Horticulture. He has an M.S. in Horticulture from University of Maryland and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a lecturer in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he teaches about plants and their ecological connections to natural systems and cultural landscapes.

After tending a city lot alive with birds and butterflies in Minneapolis, MN, he now gardens on 10 wild acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia, where he grows natives and the best plants of the global garden. Cole’s garden Bird Hill was featured in The New York Times and frequently appears in national and regional publications. The garden is a popular destination for national tours. Visitors discover a collector’s paradise set among a pastiche of woodland, meadow, and gardens inspired by the beauty of the regional landscape.

FREE admission. For more information, contact: www.facebook.com/gardencluboftheasternshore

Talbot County Garden Club Upcoming Lectures and Events

The Talbot County Garden Club announces its public events for fall 2016 through winter 2017:

October 11, 2016, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m., Fellowship Hall, St. Marks United Methodist Church, Easton MD: GCA Flower Show – “Paint it Autumn”: A Talbot County Garden Club Flower Show emphasizing fall flowers and foliage. The show will include categories in Floral Design, Horticulture and Photography as well as Special Exhibits. The show is free and open to the public. For more information please contact Bobbie Brittingham, 410-763-9525.

October 25, 2016, 1:00 p.m., Easton Library: “Shade Revealed: How to Garden Successfully in Low Light (Really!)” Shade plants are not created equally! Since the early 1990’s, Amy Ziffer has been experimenting to find the best shade adapted plants. This program illustrates through the use of beautiful photography, what makes some shade plants better performers than others. She also presents a clear approach to designing your shade garden for the best chance for long-term success. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mary Holston, 410-226-5184.

November 17, 2016, 1:30 p.m., Easton Library: “Bees, Butterflies and Other Pollinators” Robert Mardiney is the Director of Education at the Irvine Nature Center in Baltimore County. During the program, Robert will explore the fascinating world of native pollinators, the ecosystems services they provide us, their role in the environment, the problems they are facing as well as how we can help. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mary Holston, 410-226-5184.

January 24, 2017, 1:00 p.m., Easton Library: “Successful Gardening in Deer Country” Local author, Ruth Rogers Clausen 50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants, will share how choosing plants carefully can help ward off the hungry deer in your garden. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mary Holston, 410-226-5184.

February 1:30, 2017, 1:30 p.m., Easton Library: “A Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening” Douglas Tallamy is Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. Back by popular demand, Doug will present how to observe and appreciate the interactions that occur in a living landscape. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mary Holston, 410-226-5184.

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 Children’s Garden and Fountain Garden at Idlewild Park and numerous other gardens and activities. There are currently a total of 101 active, associate and honorary members.

Adkins Arboretum Offers Oct. 4 Trip to Duke Farms

duke-farms-2Through the beauty of its natural setting, the diversity of its wildlife and the scope and quality of its education programs, Duke Farms inspires people to transform their approach to conservation and start building a more sustainable future. Join Adkins Arboretum on Tues., Oct 4 for a day trip to Duke Farms in Hillsborough, N.J., one of the largest privately owned parcels of undeveloped land in the state.

Participants will take a guided tram tour through the 2,740-acre property rich in rolling hills, streams, waterfalls, ponds, forests, meadow and historic stone structures, and enjoy a tour of the Native Plant Propagation Nursery. Lunch will follow in the Café located in the 1905 Farm Barn, a 22,000-square-foot former horse and dairy barn renovated to LEED Platinum standards to an orientation center. There will be time for participants to explore on their own via tram, bike rentals or walking.

The fee of $95 for members and $120 for non-members includes transportation, driver gratuity, lunch and the guided tram tour. The bus departs from Aurora Park Drive in Easton at 8 a.m., from the Route 50/404 park and ride at 8:20 a.m. and from the Route 301/291 park and ride at 8:40 a.m. Participants may choose their pick-up location and lunch preference when registering.

Advance registration is required. Visit adkinsarboretum.org for more information or to register, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information about programs, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Eastern Shore Brewing Wins Statewide Medals in Brewing Competition

Pictured from left to right: Eastern Shore Brewing's Zach Milash (Brewmaster), Cory Edwards (Beer Server), Jay Hudson (General Manager), Adrian Moritz (co-owner). Co-owner Lori Moritz is not pictured.

Pictured from left to right: Eastern Shore Brewing’s Zach Milash (Brewmaster), Cory Edwards (Beer Server), Jay Hudson (General Manager), Adrian Moritz (co-owner). Co-owner Lori Moritz is not pictured.

St. Michaels based Eastern Shore Brewing, the oldest brewery on the Eastern Shore of MD, was awarded two medals in the 2016 annual competition of the Brewers Association of Maryland.

Eastern Shore Brewing won a silver medal for their porter named Duck Duck Goose. The brewery also won a bronze medal for their Knot So Pale Ale and an honorable mention for their Situation Critical IPA.

The competition included over 260 entries in ten different categories. Evolution Craft Brewing Company of Salisbury was the only other Eastern Shore brewery to win medals in this year’s competition. Eastern Shore Brewing has won a total of ten medals in the state competition since its inception in 2008.

Owners Adrian and Lori Moritz, and brewer Zach Milash will attend a ceremony and presentation by the Comptroller later this year.

Adkins Arboretum Offers Free Admission, More on Sept. 24 for Smithsonian Museum Day

adkins-arboretumAdkins Arboretum will waive admission fees and offer special activities on Sat., Sept. 24 in recognition of Smithsonian magazine’s twelfth annual Museum Day. A celebration of culture, learning and the dissemination of knowledge, Museum Day reflects the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums in Washington, D.C. Doors of museums and cultural institutions nationwide will be open free of charge.

The public is invited on Museum Day to explore the Arboretum’s 400 acres of native woodlands, wetlands, gardens and meadows along five miles of trails. Violist Nevin Dawson will perform at 2 p.m., and children’s activities will be offered throughout the day. Visitors also may enjoy a guided walk with docent Margan Glover, audio tours that provide lessons about the region’s natural history, the eighth biennial Outdoor Sculpture Invitational exhibit, and Four Seasons, an exhibit of paintings by Julia Sufliff. A wide variety of ornamental native perennials, trees, shrubs and grasses will be for sale for fall planting at the Native Plant Nursery. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about Adkins Arboretum, visit adkinsarboretum.org. For information about Smithsonian Museum Day, visit http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Fall Homeschool Programs Begin Sept. 20 at Adkins Arboretum

homeschool 4Homeschool students of all ages can get down and dirty with science this fall at Adkins Arboretum!

In The Science of the Wetland, a 10-week program for students in grades 2 to 5, homeschoolers will grab their buckets and delve into the wonders of this unique ecosystem. Students will develop scientific skills as they build model wetlands, examine wetland plant and animal adaptations, test water quality, observe microscopic wetland life and more. Opportunities to use scientific equipment are part of the learning process.

In Botany for Homeschoolers, for grades 6 and above, students will explore the native plants of the Arboretum’s meadow, forest and wetland habitats through the lens of botany. Areas of study will include plant evolution and classification, cell structure, photosynthesis, reproduction, leaf morphology, plant collection and genetics. Hands-on investigation and the use of scientific equipment are part of the program.

Programs meet concurrently from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from Sept. 20 to Nov. 22. Arboretum Youth Program Director Jenny Houghton and biologist/science educator Leslie Adelman will teach the programs. Advance registration is required. Visit adkinsarboretum.org for more information or to register your student, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0. 

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information about programs, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

ESLC 17th Annual Planning Conference Request for Proposals

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s 17th Annual Planning Conference, “Food Fight! Healthy? Sustainable? Realistic?” will be held November 10th at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Stevensville MD.

food fight

This conference will take a fresh look at one of the most basic human needs- food!

We welcome proposals for speakers who want to engage attendees in highly interactive sessions to evaluate how we are planning for a better, more equitable, food system built upon Eastern Shore agriculture. As the Eastern Shore’s #1 land use and our region’s biggest economic driver, agriculture continues to play a pivotal role in how the region prospers.

Who benefits from the current food system? Can Shore agricultural or behavioral shifts improve human, societal, and environmental health? What changes to our food system are realistic?

Topic areas may include:
– How we define “local” foods
– The reality of GMOs
– Crop diversity on the Eastern Shore
– Food deserts, injustice in the food system
– CAFOs and how the industry meets consumer demands
– The environmental impact of large scale agriculture vs. small scale
– Value-added agriculture and artisanal foods
– Aquaculture, urban agriculture and other innovative practices
– History of Eastern Shore agriculture
– Organic and sustainable farming
– Soil health
– Ability to feed the growing global population
– Mechanized labor vs. manual labor in food production

Ideal proposals will be short, but provocative – setting aside time for vigorous audience participation and interaction. More can be found on the event registration page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ 17th-annual-planning- conference-tickets-27078772337
If you are interested in submitting a sketch proposal for the 17th annual conference please submit your application no later than Friday, September 16, 2016 to Rachel Roman at rroman@eslc.org.

A Home Observatory of Your Own

A Home Observatory of Your Own
Pamela Heyne, AIA

If you have an interest in a home observatory, you are not alone. Hobbyists and retirees are looking at the sky in increasingly sophisticated ways. And the home observatory can take many different forms. But first, from a practical standpoint, is this a reasonable hobby to pursue on the Eastern Shore? While we have relatively dark skies, we are not as pristine as say a mountain site in Colorado.


I posed that question to John Jardine Goss, president of the Astronomical League. He said that it really depends on what type of experience you want. “If the person is primarily interested in visually observing and imaging the planets using expensive equipment, an observatory makes sense. Planetary work doesn’t necessarily require dark skies, though it helps. However, visually observing galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters really requires a dark site to get the most out of the experience.” He made several other important points. “While the MD eastern shore does not have pristine, dark skies, many people would be surprised at the number of stars that can be seen. One test is whether or not the Milky Way can be discerned in the sky glow.”(Answer, yes. ) He also mentioned that skies tend to be darker when businesses close and residents go to bed…so 2 am is a better viewing time. John also said that the best telescope is “the one you will use.” Same with an observatory…it will not be worthwhile if you won’t use it.

OK, you are still interested in that observatory. Let’s say you want to build it on your existing house. First off, you will need to make sure the telescope is stable. The usual way of insuring that is to construct a dedicated pier for the telescope itself….the slightest movement from people walking on the floor will compromise the settings. Additionally, the floor cannot touch the pier. Of course, how the pier extends down through the house requires careful planning.

The form of the observatory can range from slide off or fold down roof hatch, to metal or fiberglas cylindrical dome. The dome, with an open slit or “clamshell” opening, rotates to allow for the earth’s rotation. The telescope, on a mount bolted to the pier is motorized so that it also rotates.

Domes are typically 6’ to 30’ in diameter. The smaller domes might be accessed from a terrace. Larger domes might have room for a stair, possibly with a hatch. Many stargazers want to share the experience with one or two guests. Importantly the observatory cannot be heated or cooled….It must the same temperature as the outside air. One reason you see so many white domes is they reflect heat better, though some manufacturers fabricate them in earth tones to blend in more with surrounding residences.

Computers are usually placed near the telescope but in a more comfortable setting, like a small office which might be just downstairs from the telescope.

Though this might be considered a hobby, you will need to check your local codes and get appropriate building permits. The highest you can build for a private residence in Talbot County is 40’. Insurance is also a consideration.

The price for home observatory can vary tremendously. People who are handy can construct a shed (once again…check with codes for this will be an “ancillary structure”) and have a simple slide or fold away roof. For more elaborate designs, well, you know…”the sky’s the limit.”

Pamela Heyne, AIA is head of Heyne Design, in Saint Michaels, Md.

Food Friday: The Great Lunchbox Cookie Bakeoff

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! School is starting! Everyone is ready for the heat of summer to be over, and for all the crisp fall excitement that a new school year brings. While we are in denial about Sunday night homework anxiety panics, we are looking forward to new shoes and new school supplies. There is nothing like a fresh, fragrant box of crayons!

Before I allow the wave of nostalgia to completely sweep me away I have to remember that filling lunch boxes can be an awful tedious grind of a routine. It is difficult to keep all the lunch plates spinning in the air while trying to provide a nutritious and delicious meal to be consumed in a flash, in a loud room, filled with quick-to-judge pint-sized peers. I am afraid that those cute little notes I put in my kids’ lunch boxes were hastily pocketed, because those mean girls at the table were too cool for such sentimentality. And if the vixens of the fourth grade were scornful of those yellow post-it tokens of motherly love – what were they saying about the organic oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies?

It is such a punch list – to make it healthy, tasty, portable and appropriately cool. No wonder we give in to buying packages of Chips Ahoy cookies. They are uniform, anonymous and safe for the perilous world of scornful fourth graders. But they are not fun to bake.

Cookie baking is a great family activity. When you are tender and vulnerable to the Sunday afternoon homework anxieties, pull that fourth grader into the kitchen. Forget about the teachable math moments of measuring ingredients accurately. Sift a little flour onto the kitchen counter, and roll some dough balls around. Have a chat while you wait for the oven to preheat. Nibble on some chocolate chips – someone needs to taste test them for quality control. Show the love while eating the cookie dough – it means more here in the kitchen than some corny lunchbox note. Burnt cookies never tasted sweeter than these.

And putting a batch of homebaked cookies in a box and sending it off to a far away college does a lot to assuage the growth pains at both ends of the mail route. Everyone will remember how the time slowed for a while, while the butter was softening and the cookies were baking. We always wanted the process to hurry along, so the cookies would be done, and out of the oven. Now we want the cookies to bear the sweetest memories across time and miles.

I digress. Bake some cookies for everyone. You can never go wrong.

Trust Martha to figure out that there are three kinds of chocolate chip cookies: crisp, soft, or cakey. It all depends on the amount of butter you add. She probably has reams of top secret think tank research about brownies, too.

Do not be this person. Do not be a vegetable sneak. Those fourth grade girls will make your life a living hell, and I will pay them to do it! http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-chip-zucchini-cookies-61402
Instead, be like Nigella. Warm, earthy, sweet and flavorful. And perhaps you will develop a cute British accent.

Here is the original back-of-the-packet recipe from Nestlé for their tollhouse cookies. You can’t go wrong, however intimidating Martha and the mean girls seem. https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/original-nestle-toll-house-chocolate-chip-cookies/

And don’t mention it to my children, but I also found that keeping a box of Ghirardelli chocolate chip mix on hand is like finding a dollar in a pair of blue jeans that has just tumbled out of the dryer. Warm and toasty and a pleasant surprise.

Have a most excellent school year!

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
― Neil Gaiman