Food Friday: End-of-the-Summer Grilling

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It’s the end of summer, and sadly, we are not jetting to the Hamptons or the Vineyard, (though no one else is either because of the President!) but are having a little three day stay-cation at home. It is still plenty hot, so we will not be waxing nostalgic about the summer weather, but we will be standing around the grill, wearing white, twirling kebabs, and hoping that the high temps cool down sometime soon.

I just love this quotation from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal: “Protein prices are just so visible to people because they build their meals around it,” says Stacie Rabinowitz, a senior analyst with research firm Consumer Edge Research. “All incomes feel it.”

http://online.wsj.com/articles/high-food-prices-lead-to-trade-offs-even-in-upper-income-households-1409094494?tesla=y&mg=reno64-wsj

Prices are soaring, so we need to analyze the best way to deliver protein to our families. Yikes. Beef prices are up, but so is everything else. We were planning on grilling chicken this weekend, eating economically and eating “more better”, to quote Dan Pashman from The Sporkful podcast.

We didn’t feel as if we were scrimping when we whipped up these kababs last weekend: skewered chicken, Vidalia onions and red, green and yellow peppers, served with grilled ears of corn, a nice green salad and the usual accompaniment of cheap white wine. Beer was available for the non-bon vivants.

Best Beloved’s favorite chicken strategy is to allow the chicken to marinate in one of his concoctions for about an hour. First he chunked the boneless chicken breasts (bought on sale) and let the large cubes steep in a bowl of white Worchestershire sauce, with a handful of capers, some good quality olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. And then he threads the ingredients onto metal skewers. Then he wrapped shucked corn in aluminum foil, with a big pat of butter. He tossed skewers and the ears of corn onto the grill, drank a beer, threw the ball for the dog and then walked inside to sit down to eat. In the interim, I managed to boil up a pot of rice, wash a bowl of salad, lighted some candles and poured the wine. Phew! It is had work being a weekend sous chef!

Now, if you want to get fancy, like our friends at the Wall Street Journal did, then you could add a couple of hundred people, vats of potato salad, fancy drinks, and a band, and then wonder why hamburger prices have gone through the roof. We aimed for a more modest production. We listened to jazz on Pandora, lighted the candles and ate dinner. Enough is as good as a feast, as Laura Ingalls Wilder often wrote.

We also returned to childhood and had a Famous Wafer refrigerator cake. The recipe and the informative photo are right on the side of the box, in case you have forgotten how to whip cream and stack layers of cookies. Food52 gussied it up a little bit, as is their wont, although they did say, “The best summer dessert is also the easiest.” How right they are! https://food52.com/blog/7061-how-to-make-any-icebox-cake-in-5-steps

This “Chicken Under a Brick” recipe from Bon Appétit sounds first rate: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chicken-under-a-brick

But if you want to stick to skewers, this is far more exotic than ours: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sambal-chicken-skewers

Martha weighs in with her fancier-than-thou chicken skewers: http://www.marthastewart.com/341224/cajun-kebabs-with-chicken-and-andouille#Grilled%20Chicken%20Recipes|/275423/grilled-chicken-recipes/@center/276943/grilling-recipes|341224

Here is another podcast I enjoy: The Sporkful. (http://www.sporkful.com/) Dan Pashman gets to the root of many a food conundrum: Is a hot dog a sandwich? What is that gizmo in the Guinness can? What is the best weather-themed dessert? So many concerns you had never before reflected upon! It is a highly amusing and informative podcast, which often brings a smile to my face. Give it a try!

Enjoy the end of summer. It’s hard to believe it is really here, though the children are back at school already, and it is still stinking hot out there. But have you noticed the light is changing? Most nights Luke-the-wonder-dog and I walk out to the end of the street to get a good view of the sunset, and last night we dawdled a minute or two sniffing some most fascinating leaves of a bush, so we were too late for that golden moment. The pinks were fading to grays and the cardinals had started singing their nighttime songs. Revel in your long weekend!

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck


Environmental Concern Prepares for 12th Annual Fall Native Plant Sale

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Impressed by the vivid white blooms of the Sweetbay Magnolia? Choose the perfect magnolia for your landscape at Environmental Concern’s (EC) annual Fall Native Plant Sale on Friday, September 5th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, September 6th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sale will take place at EC’s Campus located at the head of San Domingo Creek on Boundary Lane in historic St. Michaels, Maryland.

A hardy selection of trees and shrubs will be offered for purchase this fall. The Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is one of the local favorites. Our featured plant for the Fall Native Plant Sale, the Sweetbay magnolia, has 2″-3″ lemon-rose scented creamy white flowers, visible in late spring and early summer. It has a very pleasing shape when used as a specimen tree. Bright scarlet-red seeded fruit ripens in late summer, attracting many birds.

The Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) will also be available in several sizes. The vibrant red flowers create an eye-catching display. Add this plant to the garden for late summer/early fall color. It grows best in moist to wet soil in full or partial sun and will thrive along the margin of a garden pool. Once established, it usually will re-seed itself – assuring future nectar for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. For gardeners in the Mid-Atlantic Region, fall is an ideal time to plant native plants. After the last heat wave of summer passes, the cooler months allow plants to establish good root systems before the next dry summer season.

Select your plants from the largest collection of locally grown native herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs in the Region. EC specializes in native plants grown from seed and propagated on-site. Visit our website at http://www.wetland.org/whoweare_history.htm to read about the nursery’s founding in 1972.

The sale hours are Friday, September 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 6th from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Contact Penny at (410) 745-9620 or e-mail at nursery-sales@wetland.org. Members will receive a 10% discount. A special membership packet will be offered to new members on Saturday, September 6th.

All proceeds from the plant sale will help fund EC’s mission to improve water quality and enhance native habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
EC is a 501(c)3 public not-for-profit organization. For more information, visit www.wetland.org or call (410) 745-9620.

Adkins to Host Native Plant Nursery Open House

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Adkins Arboretum’s Native Plant Nursery will open its doors Sept. 13 and 14 for a Fall Open House. No longer simply a native plant sale, the event offers visitors the opportunity to tour the Nursery and its operations, learn about rain barrels and plant propagation, and visit the Nursery’s native gardens, all in addition to purchasing plants for the fall garden.

The Nursery will be awash with color from ferns and grasses, fall-flowering asters and goldenrods, and a large selection of native trees and shrubs. Planting for pollinators supports populations of birds, bees and butterflies, and a special selection of perennial plants for pollinators will be for sale, including mountain mint, gayfeather, beebalm and butterfly weed. Shrubs like viburnum, bush honeysuckle, and sweet pepper bush support native bees and butterflies from early spring through fall.

Fall is the best season for planting. Trees and shrubs planted in fall have a chance to set roots before the heat and stress of summer. The Arboretum participates in the Marylanders Plant Trees program, an initiative by the State of Maryland to encourage residents to plant native trees. The program offers a $25 coupon toward purchase of native trees that retail for $50 or more.

Fall is the best season for planting. Adkins Arboretum’s Fall Open House weekend, Sept. 13 and 14, offers the region’s largest selection of native plants for the Chesapeake gardener.

Fall is the best season for planting. Adkins Arboretum’s Fall Open House weekend, Sept. 13 and 14, offers the region’s largest selection of native plants for the Chesapeake gardener.

Fri., Sept. 12 is an Open House day for members from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. New members are welcome. All members, including those who join during the Open House, will receive a significant discount on plant purchases. Old-time music trio Driven Women will perform during the day, and Blessings Blends will offer potting soil and compost products for sale. Landscape architect Chris Pax, lead designer for the Arboretum’s Native Landscape Design Center, will present Great Natives, a program about the beauty that native plants contribute to the landscape, no matter the season. The free program begins at 1 p.m. in the Arboretum Visitor’s Center. Pax will also be available during the Open House weekend to discuss the Native Landscape Design Center’s services.

Public Open House days are Sat., Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. All are welcome.

Proceeds from plants sold at the Fall Open House benefit the Arboretum’s education programs. For more information, call 410-634-2847, extension 0 or visit www.adkinsarboretum.org.

Food Friday: Let’s Do Lunch!

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It is time to Go Back to School! Hooray!

This is a list to keep on the fridge door – so you don’t lose heart at night when making lunches to send off to school, or to take to the office, or just to get a jump on the week. Start with Column A, move through the alphabet, and embellish at will.

I work from home, consequently I have no excuse to have sad little meals of peanut butter on Saltines. I should have a well-stocked fridge, packed to the gills with tasty amuse bouche and nutritious luncheon ingredients. And here, at the beginning of the school year, so should you.

Get out the tiny little Tupperwear containers, find all the maddeningly elusive lids, and start chopping. Make yourself little Bento boxes of luncheon-y delights for every day. Shake up your routine, and experiment. Try chopped cornichons. Swipe on some chutney. Dust a sandwich with a handful of sprouts. Give up the Pepperidge Farm white bread and try Naan bread. And don’t forget leftovers! The Tall One made some interesting combinations with leftovers from Thanksgiving, theorizing that everything tastes delicious on a crescent roll, especially when daubed judiciously with cranberry sauce…

Here is your list of school supplies:

Column A
Let’s start with bread:
Ciabatta bread
Rye bread
Whole grain breads
Hard rolls
Portuguese rolls
French baguette
Italian bread
Brioche
Flour tortillas
Croissants
Bagels
Challah bread
Crostini
Cornbread
Naan bread
Focaccia bread
Pita bread

If storing overnight, top bread with lettuce first, then the spreads, to keep sandwich from getting soggy.

Column B
Next, the spread:
Mayo
Sriracha sauce
Ketchup
Dijon mustard
Honey mustard
Italian dressing
Russian dressing
Cranberry sauce
Pesto sauce
Hummus
Tapenade
Sour cream
Mango chutney
Butter
Hot sauce
Salsa

Column C
Cheeses:
Swiss cheese
American cheese
Mozzarella
Blue cheese
Cream cheese
Havarti cheese
Ricotta cheese
Cheddar cheese
Provolone cheese
Brie cheese
Cottage cheese
Goat cheese

Column D
The main ingredient:
Meatloaf
Turkey
Chicken
Corned beef
Bacon
Crumbled hard boiled eggs
Scrambled eggs
Corned beef
Salami
Italian sausage
Ham
Roast beef
Egg salad
Tuna salad
Ham salad
Crab salad
Chicken salad
Turkey salad
Lobster salad
Tofu

Column E
The decorative (and tasty) elements:
Tomatoes
Lettuce
Basil
Onion
Avocado
Cucumber
Cilantro
Shredded carrots
Jalapenos
Cole slaw
Sliced apples
Sliced red peppers
Arugula
Sprouts
Radicchio
Watercress
Sliced pears
Apricots
Pickles
Spinach
Artichoke hearts
Grapes
Strawberries
Figs

Column F
Finger foods:
Cherries
Carrots
Strawberries
Green Beans
Broccoli
Celery
Edemame
Granola
Rice cakes
Apples
Bananas
Oranges
Melon balls
Raisins
Broccoli

Nobody will ever complain about lunch again if you can remember to jazz it up a little. My son, who lived for at least an entire year on (requested) white bread, bologna and yellow mustard sandwiches, is now a strapping 6 feet 4 inches tall. Imagine how far into the clouds he would stretch if we had thought to make him fig, goat cheese and carmelized onion sandwiches…

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/magazine/how-to-create-an-artful-sandwich.html?ref=dining&_r=0

http://www.laptoplunches.com/bento-menus/

http://www.marthastewart.com/853321/brown-bag-sandwich-recipes/@center/856055/lunch-recipes

http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/breadstuffs/sandwich-types.asp

“I always tell my kids to cut a sandwich in half right when you get it, and the first thought you should have is somebody else. You only ever need half a burger.”
― Louis C.K.

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Liming, Powdery Mildew, and Dogwoods

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“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is compiled from phone and email questions asked of the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), part of University of Maryland Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland.

Question #1: What time of the year should I be putting lime down on my lawn? Also what kind of lime do you recommend? Thanks

Answer #1: Before applying lime you should do a soil test. Soil testing will determine if you even need to apply lime and if the pH is low the results will indicate how much lime to apply. Lime can be applied just about any time of the year but fall is an excellent time for lawn tasks. Look for agriculture lime (calcitic limestone). Dolomitic lime contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate and is recommended for raising the pH on low magnesium soils. Pelletized lime is similar to agriculture lime, but is easier and neater for homeowners to apply than powdered lime. Look on the homepage of our website given below for information on soil testing.

Question #2: I came home from vacation to find the leaves of my very-productive cucumber plants looking mottled and appearing to have a white coating on them. What can this be and is there something I can do to salvage the plants?

Answer #2: Sounds like your cucumbers are infected with powdery mildew, a common fungal disease that affects cucurbits. This disease is favored by warm weather and can be destructive in dry as well as wet seasons. Once plants are infected they cannot be cured. Spraying with a copper fungicide or horticultural oil labeled for powdery mildew may slow down the infection. While plants usually do not die, they are weakened by the infection which reduces yields. Prevent the disease next year by doing a thorough clean-up of your garden in the fall, plant powdery mildew resistant varieties in an area with good air circulation, provide ample spacing between plants and avoid overhead watering.

Question #3: My father-in-law wants to dig up and give me two dogwood seedlings that have grown in his yard. I do have plenty of room to plant them but I was wondering what the best time of the year is to do this. He is thinking the fall but I wanted to check.

Answer #3: Correct timing does play a role for the successful transplanting of dogwood seedlings. Fall is a good time to plant but transplanting certain tree species like dogwood, red maple, cherry, hawthorn and zelkova should be done in spring. Typically this is in March when the ground is workable. Keep the seedlings watered, especially during dry periods, for the first two years after transplanting.

To ask a home gardening or pest control question or for other help, go to http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Or phone HGIC at 1-800-342-2507, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

September 25 Brings Oyster Crawl to St. Michaels

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Fordham Brewing Company and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum are presenting the first St. Michaels Oyster Crawl on Thursday, September 25 for a limited number of participants. The 4-7 pm. event features a “History on the Half Shell” program at CBMM, followed by a walking tour of St. Michaels’ historic district for stout and oyster pairings at four waterfront restaurants.

The two organizations have been partnering together since 2012, when Fordham launched its Rosie Parks Oyster Stout brand, made in honor of the museum’s recently restored oystering skipjack, the Rosie Parks.

Beginning in September, the brewery will be offering the stout in 12-ounce bottles, packaged in six packs, with draft also available in select Maryland, Virginia and Delaware locations. Tours and tastings will also be offered at Fordham’s headquarters in Dover, De. A portion of the stout’s sales are being donated to the non-profit museum.

Fordham Brewing Company and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum are presenting a St. Michaels Oyster Crawl on Thursday, September 25 for a limited number of participants. The 4-7 pm. event features a “History on the Half Shell” program at CBMM, followed by a walking tour of St. Michaels’ historic district for stout and oyster pairings at four waterfront restaurants.

Fordham Brewing Company and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum are presenting a St. Michaels Oyster Crawl on Thursday, September 25 for a limited number of participants. The 4-7 pm. event features a “History on the Half Shell” program at CBMM, followed by a walking tour of St. Michaels’ historic district for stout and oyster pairings at four waterfront restaurants.

The September 25 Oyster Crawl begins at 4 p.m., with participants joining CBMM’s Director of Education Kate Livie for a brief “History on the Half Shell” talk in the museum’s Van Lennep Auditorium. During the program, the museum will offer tastings of local, farm-raised Choptank Sweets, shucked and served by a Chesapeake waterman. To kick off the event, each participant will receive a commemorative tasting glass, as well as a 12-ounce bottle of Rosie Parks Oyster Stout.

From there, participants will take a brief walking tour along the St. Michaels harbor to sample oyster and stout pairings at the waterfront Crab Claw Restaurant, St. Michaels Crab & Steak House, Town Dock Food & Spirits and Foxy’s Harbor Grille.

Oysters will be prepared in a number of ways, including Oysters Rockefeller, Oysters Casino, and raw on the half shell, with participants offered stout samplings and five plated oysters at each location.

“The stout is designed to pair well with oysters,” said Fordham Brewing Company President Jim Lutz. “This year, we’re producing 100 barrels of the one-batch stout, which is brewed with Chesapeake Bay oysters and shells to give it a slight briny taste.”

The skipjack Rosie Parks was built in 1955 by legendary boat builder Bronza Parks for his brother, Captain Orville Parks, and was named for their mother. CBMM purchased the sailing workboat in 1975 from Captain Orville, after 20 years dredging oysters along the Chesapeake Bay. Rosie had a reputation as both the best maintained skipjack in the oyster dredging fleet and as a champion sailor at the annual skipjack races. She is now a floating exhibit and ambassador of the museum, with participation planned for this year’s skipjack races.

The cost for the St. Michaels Oyster Crawl is $65 per person, or $55 for CBMM members, with limited participation and registration needed by Monday, September 22. To register, call CBMM at 410-745-4941. The event is generously sponsored by the participating restaurants, as well as Kelly Distributors of Easton, Md. For more information, visit www.cbmm.org or www.fordhambrewing.com

Food Friday: Mason Jar Salads

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We all have a friend like this. Mine is quite adorable and enjoyable, witty and smart. She reads good books, enjoys a good beer, she tells great jokes. She has wonderful fashion sense, has smart children and drives a hybrid car. But she does have a smug flaw: for years, she has been very cheerfully efficient about doing household chores. She does not groan or hide herself away in the bedroom with her book (the way I do). She smilingly cleans bathrooms and remembers to vacuum at least twice a week. Her husband is equally loathsome. Imagine the audible nature of their eye rolls when a tumbleweed of dust and dog fur comes flying from behind our sofa. Ghastly!

She also makes meal plans. Imagine that. If you call her on a Sunday afternoon she will be roasting a chicken for dinner that night, and she will proceed to get two more meals out of it during the week. And she’ll pick the little bits of meat off the bones to feed to her ancient, fussy cat. Later she will probably start rolling out meatballs for a huge homemade spaghetti sauce. She might even make her own fresh pasta, but I haven’t asked, for fear that it might be true. And she finds time to exercise.

When her kids were little she made healthy, colorful lunches with tempting comestibles for them to eat with gusto for their school lunches. Mine probably traded the bologna-on-Pepperidge-Farm-white-bread-with-yellow-mustard sandwiches for Twinkies. (Note: The Tall One ASKED for bologna sandwiches – for years!)

My children have grown up and moved on without too many psychic scars, so at least I don’t have that school lunch panic clawing at my being on Sunday afternoons any more, but there is still the week of dinners that really should be planned. Perhaps I will reform one day, but I suppose I am still wandering around waiting for Good Witch Glinda to fly in and grant me a few wishes, and if dinner planning is going to use up one of them, then I am indeed a sorry sad sack.

Imagine my delight when I started reading about a new food trend: Mason jar salads. It was probably hatched up in Park Slope, Brooklyn where some hipster was confronted by a collection of vintage Mason jars and wondered how to monetize them. That’s OK. I am using my own decidedly un-hip jars from grocery store spaghetti sauce, recycled. (That’s our little secret – doctor the sauce up with a couple of cloves of garlic, lots of good olive oil and a handful of basil and you have a last minute meal that is quite palatable. My speciality.)

What I like best about the Mason jar salad approach is that with just a little effort, and not too much because I cannot change my stripes overnight, I can wash some Romaine lettuce, tear some more greens, rips leaves from the basil plant, cube some Mozzarella, wash some tomatoes and whip up an improvised pesto. And it is easy to stick with one theme or to go wild with different veggies and ingredients. In about half an hour I have salads for a week. And then I have no excuses not to have a fresh salad every night or for my own lunch. Yesterday I dragged my starving self out of the studio for some lunch and was reduced to eating peanut butter on Ritz crackers. Not very inspired for someone who writes a food blog…

There are a few things to keep in mind to be sure the salads last for five days. Layer wisely. Put your salad dressing in first, to coat the bottom of the jar. Tear your lettuce and greens because cutting them, besides being aesthetically unpleasing, will cause brown edges. Ick. Don’t cut tomatoes – use small cherry tomatoes or those tiny, jewel-like Marzanos whole. Then things won’t get soggy. If you are bringing your salads to the office, please watch out how much garlic and onion you use. You do not want to alienate anyone. Shake, don’t stir. Enjoy. Repeat.

So take heart, fellow procrastinators. This is not a step that will have you competing in the marketplace with Martha, but it will give you a sense of well-deserved smugness. Look at the facts: you are recycling and re-using Mason-like jars and you will be eating salad five days a week. Additionally, you can grill some chicken or steak or fish or serve with some garlic bread. You have planned ahead. And when Glinda comes a calling you can use your wishes for something important, like new ruby slippers.

Caprese Pasta Salad
2 tablespoons basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 ½ ounce fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 ounces cooked penne pasta
½ cup fresh Romaine lettuce
½ cup fresh basil, torn with verve

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomat – the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know how much oil to mix in with one’s vinegar.”
–Oscar Wilde

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/06/mason-jar-salads_n_5452313.html

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch

http://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2014/02/12/instagramable-lunch-ever-14-healthy-mason-jar-salad-recipes/

Food Friday: Blessedly Cool Gazpacho

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Get out of the kitchen! Walk out onto the front porch with a book and relax. Oh, some unexpected company has come walking by, and you have just invited them to sit with you in the warm shade, to enjoy the breeze, and watch the other neighbors doing their mundane chores. What are you going to serve? Do not panic! You are going to whip up a batch of gazpacho, my dear. Because at this time of the year you have got all the fixings in you fridge and right there on your kitchen windowsill. You do NOT need to go to the grocery store, I promise you. This is not a tricky damn woo Martha recipe, where you need walnut oil freshly pressed by Trappist monks. Even I have all this stuff, and usually I am only good for stale Triscuits, hard bits of Cheddar cheese and cheap white wine. (This summer there is a bottle of vodka stashed in the freezer. Shhh.)

Stick your head in the fridge. What do you see? I see Vidalia onions, half of a cucumber, limes, green peppers, radishes, V-8 juice and Tobasco sauce. There is an assortment of ripening tomatoes, a basil plant, and a poor, sad, wilting parsley plant on the kitchen windowsill. On the back porch the last few tiny heads of lettuce are struggling valiantly in the heat. And bread! The bread collection in the freezer yields a goodish loaf of last week’s ciabatta bread. Perfecto! In the cupboard I find olive oil and a big old can of Marzano tomatoes – in case we need to stretch the recipe once news of this impromptu party goes viral through our active social media accounts. This beauteous gazpacho should be quite Instagramable!

Gazpacho can be very versatile. It can be a soup, a dip or a cocktail. I am opting for the cocktail, because it is Friday, after all. And after last week’s experience in the hot Vulcan-like kitchen, I plan to kick back and find some coolth. (And if no one walks by, Luke, the wonder dog and I will curl up with Gabriel Allon and discover the mastermind of The Heist, my latest Kindle read from Daniel Silva.)

Grab a bag of Doritos (ours might be a little stale, sorry) and pour some in a bowl and drop it on the table next to the porch swing. Excuse yourself for a few minutes. Luke is good for entertaining people because he always wants to chase the ball. Hours (and hours) of endless amusement for him…

Thaw and soak the bread, peel, chop, slice and dice your vegetables, and then whip them up in the blender, or with your food processor. Chunky – great for dip. Slurpy – good for soup. Smooth – get out the straws and the vodka.

Gazpacho Soup: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/gazpacho-recipe.html

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/jun/24/how-to-make-perfect-gazpacho

Gazpacho Dip: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/gazpacho-dip-10000001733020/Gazpacho

Gazpacho Bloody Marys: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Gazpacho-Bloody-Marys-236770

Gazpacho without a Recipe:
https://food52.com/blog/10925-how-to-make-gazpacho-without-a-recipe

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
-Lewis Grizzard

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Petunias, Japanese Beetles, & Invasives

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“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is compiled from phone and email questions asked the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), part of University of Maryland Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland.

Question #1: I have 3 hanging baskets that are filled with purple petunias. The leaves are starting to turn slightly yellow and they aren’t blooming as well. They are in full sun and I water them every 2-3 days. Can you help?

Answer #1: It is not unusual for hanging baskets to take a break from blooming mid-summer. Petunias can even tend to get leggy. The yellow leaves suggest that perhaps this is a good time to apply a balanced liquid fertilizer labeled for flowers or houseplants. This would also be a good time to prune them back. Prune the stems back to about half their length. You can cut back to within a few inches of the base if needed, but do not remove all their leaves. Then water well to prompt new growth and flowers. This mid-summer overhaul should keep them blooming until the fall.

Question #2: This summer I had to put up a Japanese beetle trap near our Linden tree. The beetles were all over it. Their activity has slowed down so is it safe for me to take the trap down?

Answer #2: We do not recommend the use of Japanese beetle traps. Placing a trap near a plant that the beetles are attacking can actually draw more to the area and cause more damage. The pheromone used to attract the beetles to the trap is very efficient and can draw Japanese beetles from a large area. If you still insist on using them place them on your property as far away as possible from the plants you are trying to protect but also be respectful of your neighbor’s plants. Japanese beetles fly for about 4-6 weeks and plants do tend to recover from their damage.

Question #3: I have a grass-like weed that is rapidly spreading through my lawn. It first appeared about 3 years ago. It dies out every winter but comes back more intensely each spring. It started on the sunny edge of the woods. Please help me to identify it and any suggestions you may have for eradicating it will be greatly appreciated.

Answer #3: The weed sounds like Microstegium vimineum or Japanese stiltgrass. It is native of Asia, first appearing in the U.S. in 1919 and is now spreading rapidly throughout the eastern U.S. This is a very difficult plant to control and is highly invasive. It is an annual grass and has a lifecycle similar to crabgrass. Japanese stiltgrass has a fibrous root system, stems which are erect or reclining and roots at stem nodes. You can help prevent the spread of stiltgrass by mowing before it goes to seed in late summer. Small areas can be handpulled, although you need to be careful about disturbing the soil. Disturbed soil is an open invitation for additional weed seeds to germinate. In wooded areas use a non-selective systemic herbicide for control. In lawn areas apply a pre-emergent herbicide used for crabgrass control in early spring.

To ask a home gardening or pest control question or for other help, go to http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Or phone HGIC at 1-800-342-2507, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Food Friday: Hot Summer? Hot Biscuits!

FF_HutSummerHotBiscuits

It’s been a hot, stinky summer, and I should be thinking about all the cool and abundant foods that can be eaten without cooking – tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, any berries, radishes, celery, cucumbers… Instead I am beginning to think about baking some biscuits, and really ratcheting up the heat index the kitchen for the morning. There is nothing is better than a warm home baked biscuit, schmeared with sweet butter. Unless it is a scone, lathered with cream and jam. Or whipped cream and some of those berries. Mmmm.

And why I was suddenly compelled to bake biscuits you might wonder? I did an illo recently for my podcast friends at The Dinner Party Download – which is such a great podcast and you really should listen to it: http://www.dinnerpartydownload.org/ Rico Galliano and Brendan Francis Newnam engage in much banter, hilarity, booze, music, storytelling and generate a lot of pleasurable listening for me when I am walking the dog, or folding napkins. They weren’t able to use my design after all, but being good sports and gentlemen, they thanked me with the gift of a fabulous cookbook, which spurred me on to ridiculous temperatures. Rico and Brendan sent me the Tupelo Honey: New Southern Flavors From the Blue Ridge Mountains cookbook, which is packed to the rafters with photos and ideas and recipes for Southern cooking for the twenty-first century. The Tupelo Honey Café has cafes in Asheville, Greenville, Chattanooga, Charlotte and Johnson City. My bucket list just got longer.

The Dinner Party Download starts each episode with an icebreaker joke, and then some small talk, which leads to cocktail chatter. Appropriately the Tupelo Honey Café cookbook starts with “Moonshine, ‘Thunder Road’ and Mountain Elixirs”. Not that I will be hitting the moonshine before breakfast, but it’s good to know that these cookbook editors have their priorities straight, with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks.

I moseyed past “Ode to Muddy Pond” and “Tupelo Honey-Molasses Eggnog”, made note of “Summertime Tomato Salad” which looked easy peasy and blessedly cool: cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, a red onion and some vinaigrette. I thumbed past the “Cheese, Cheese, Cheese Mac and Cheese, Please” and the “Smoked Hog Jowl – Creamed with Lima Beans with Tarragon” to reach the “Tupelo Honey Buttermilk Biscuits”.

Tupelo Honey Buttermilk Biscuits
• 2 cups White Lily Self-Rising Flour
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ⅓ cup chilled shortening, cut into pieces
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 1 cup buttermilk
• Melted butter
Preheat oven to 425˚ and position oven rack slightly below center of oven. Lightly butter a round cake pan or cast-iron skillet. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, and salt. Snap pieces of shortening with your fingers until they’re no larger than peas. Make a well in the mixture and pour in cream and ⅔ cup of buttermilk. Using your hands, sweep in the flour and turn dough until dry ingredients are moistened and dough resembles cottage cheese, adding just enough of remaining ⅓ cup buttermilk to reach this consistency. Sprinkle rolling surface with flour. Turn dough out onto the surface and sprinkle top with flour. With floured hands, fold dough in half and pat it into a ⅓- to ½-inch-thick round, using additional flour as needed. Flour again if necessary and fold dough in half a second time. If dough is still clumpy, repeat folding process for a third time. Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round. Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the flour and cut out biscuits, ensuring you don’t twist the cutter. Place biscuits in pan, sides slightly touching. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and bake for 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown, rotating pan 180 degrees after 6 minutes. Remove from oven and brush biscuits again with melted butter. Yields 10 biscuits.
https://tupelohoneycafe.com/recipes

No more Bisquick for us!

If you would like to continue enjoying Southern recipes, here’s one from Southern Living for scones – which are just gussied up biscuits. But they are more acceptable for afternoons, particularly if you trowel on the clotted (or whipped) cream.: http://www.southernliving.com/food/entertaining/easy-scone-recipes

One blog I like to follow, indeed it is my fantasy life, is The Little Observationist. http://www.littleobservationist.com/ Steph is an ex-pat American living in London, who blogs (and photographs very nicely) about food and drink and London sights, smells and tastes. Recently she baked scones for the first time, which I found rather shocking as she has lived there for quite a while. But I suppose if I could have tea and cakes with regularity from the Paul Patisserie or The Drawing Rooms at the Ampersand Hotel, I wouldn’t be baking at home either: http://joythebaker.com/2014/04/tiny-strawberry-cream-scones/

Two more sites with lots of good ideas – Garden & Gun Magazine and Food52:

http://gardenandgun.com/article/comfort-southern-food

https://food52.com/blog/10906-how-to-handle-dough-in-a-hot-kitchen

“Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.”
-Carl Sandburg