Archives for June 2011

Capital Area Food Banks to Charge for Produce

For the first time in its history, the Capital Area Food Bank will begin charging its members for fruits and vegetables July 1, adding thousands in unexpected costs for some of the 700 agencies that rely on the organization to feed the region’s hungry.

The fee, 10 cents per pound, is needed to help offset the rising cost of food, which hit an all-time high globally this year and is projected to increase between 3 and 4 percent in the United States by the end of the year, officials said.

The food bank, the region’s main provider of food for the poor, has spent $1 million more than expected on fresh produce this year and needs help with its own skyrocketing costs, said Mark McCaffrey, the food bank’s chief operations officer.

“We don’t want to have to do this, but we’re in such a bind,” McCaffrey said. “It’s to try and help us out on transportation and food costs so we can keep the healthy food going out the door.”

Read the rest:

Easton’s Neighborhood Service Center

126 Port Street
Easton, MD 21601
Phone Number: 410-822-5015
In addition to food once a month, it offers: Transitional & emergency housing, transportation, meals, counseling, case management, tutoring. Heating & electric bill assistance. Rent Assistance. 911 (after-hours emergencies). Donations welcome.

New Tax Stresses Restaurants and Bars as Law Goes Into Effect

Maryland’s restaurateurs, bar and tavern owners, liquor store operators and point-of-sale system programmers have spent the last couple of weeks scrambling to get ready to collect the state’s new 9% tax on alcohol, which goes into effect on Friday.

Sellers of alcohol and industry affiliates say that they have been working hard to understand the ramifications and implications of the new law – introduced in the last days of the 2011 legislative session, and passed by both chambers hours before the legislature adjourned April 11. It raises the sales tax on alcohol products 50%.

However, the tax itself – which increases the sales tax on alcoholic beverages by three percentage points — has proved to be complex. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the bill last month, giving those affected just over a month to prepare.

And the stakes of getting ready in time are high. July 1 – the bill’s effective date – is a summertime Friday, one of the busiest times for alcohol sales. On top of that, it’s the beginning of the long July 4th weekend, when thousands traditionally toast the nation’s independence with alcoholic beverages. Besides the fact that revelers will have to pay more for their drinks on a holiday weekend, the high volume of sales will make it so retailers have to have everything in place to properly impose the new tax – or end up absorbing some of their profits.

“You couldn’t pick a worse date to start,” said Jack Milani, the legislative co-chair of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association. “If you had to pick the worst date to do this, it would be July 1.”

What the law does

The new alcohol tax appears to be simple enough. It’s a 50% increase on the sales tax for alcoholic beverages, meaning that bars, restaurants and liquor stores will collect 3 more cents for every dollar spent on alcohol — 9 cents up from 6 cents.
However, that simplicity is deceptive.

“I’m pulling my hair out,” said Bill Herbst, owner of La Hacienda Mexican Food and Spirits in Ocean City.

Adding the extra tax on a beer is rather straightforward, said Melvin Thompson, senior vice president for government affairs and public policy for the Maryland Restaurant Association.

However, that’s not all the new tax applies to. He said that it also needs to be imposed on items related to the serving of alcohol, as well as on mandatory gratuities for large parties in restaurants. This is causing headaches for some of the state’s restaurants, he said.

For a restaurant that also serves as a catering company, Thompson said, it makes sense for them to charge the 9% tax on alcohol served by the bartender. But customers are also paying for a bartender and use of items included with the bar.

“What about the bartender’s service charge? That’s directly related to serving alcohol,” Thompson said. “And what about the bar glasses? Those are used for serving alcohol, but they’re also used for serving soft drinks. Do they need to keep track of which glasses are used for which drink?”

Barb Pastwa, owner of BME Business Systems in Smithsburg, said this will create accounting headaches. BME offers point-of-sale systems for tallying food and beverage purchases. For mixed drinks, she said, both the alcohol and the non-alcoholic mixer will be charged the 9% tax, and each ingredient recorded separately in the accounting system.

“There’s going to be taxes for Coca Cola as liquor and taxes for Coca Cola as food. But that doesn’t make sense; it’s the same Coca Cola,” she said. “It’s going to be a mess.”

Also, the state taxes mandatory restaurant gratuities — the automatic tips added to the bills for large parties. Starting on Friday, those gratuities will be taxed at two rates – 9% for alcohol and 6% for everything else, Thompson said. The restaurants will need to figure out what percentage of the bill was for alcohol, then what percentage of the added gratuity would represent alcohol, then tax that at 9%. Pastwa said that only the most up-to-date point-of-sale systems will be able to handle this calculation.

Thompson said he doesn’t believe the legislature intended for the tax to have so many ambiguities. However, because the legislation came in at the 11th hour of the session and flew through both houses at lightning speed, nobody from the industry was allowed to testify on how the bill as written would impact them. There was quite a lot of testimony on an unsuccessful proposal for an alcohol tax during the legislative session, but that was an excise tax that would have been implemented differently.

“This is one of those things where the legislature shot first and thought about it later,” Thompson said.

Getting ready for a new tax

O’Malley signed the tax into law on May 19.

The following day, the Comptroller’s Office published a bulletin on the tax and its implications. Spokesman Joe Shapiro said that it was sent to 125,000 taxpayer accounts that could be affected. And the Comptroller’s Office posted answers to frequently asked questions on its website.
Most of the time, Shapiro said, the most important thing the Comptroller’s Office has to do to prepare for a new tax is to let people know that the tax is coming. Since the alcohol tax has been high-profile and well-publicized, he said, that has not been a problem.

However, the office has been proactive in educating people exactly how the new tax is to be applied.
“As with any tax law, we’re ready to enforce it fairly and uphold the law as it was passed,” Shapiro said.

Reprogramming requirements

Thompson and Milani said that the Comptroller’s Office has been helpful to their organizations’ members. Now, the biggest challenge is reprogramming cash registers and point-of-sale systems.

Pastwa, who has about 175 customers in Maryland impacted by the change, said that her technicians have been slammed for the last couple weeks. For each system, some manual reprogramming has to be done. And then, when businesses open on Friday morning, BME technicians will be talking several of them through how to activate those updates.

The average customer needs about 45 minutes to an hour worth of reprogramming, costing the customer about $150. However, Pastwa said, there are customers whose systems need to be upgraded, so their bills will be higher. And she hopes that all customers will be willing to pay for their services. The last time machines needed to be reprogrammed for an increase in sales tax, Pastwa there were many who refused.
“Because this is something that the state has told them they have to do, there are customers who feel that this should be something they don’t have to pay for,” she said.

Pastwa also said that several customers were not aware of some of the requirements of the new law – like indicating how much the customer has paid in alcohol tax on the receipt. She said she’s been proactive in reaching out to make sure that they have it in place.

“If they don’t have the systems in place, they are going to have to eat the tax,” Pastwa said.”… Do you know what the margin of profit is in a restaurant? If they are making 3% to 4%, they are doing well.”

Milani said at the beginning of this week that many of his members were still waiting to get their systems reprogrammed.
Crossing state lines?

Another concern voiced by alcohol retailers is that people will start crossing state lines to buy alcohol once the tax is in place. Milani said that Delaware has been heavily advertising its lack of alcohol taxes to vacationers in just south of the state line in Ocean City.

“There’s no question we’re going to lose some business,” Herbst said.

Milani said that he was amazed at the revenue projections for the tax bill, which were estimated at $88 million. He thinks that the higher tax rates, coupled with the advertising to cross state lines for lower taxes at beach destinations near Delaware and Virginia, will reduce the state’s total alcohol sales this year.

“It will be curious to see at the end of the first year if production and sales are what they think they will be,” he said.

By Megan Poinski

CBMM Welcomes New Board Members and Officers

On June 20, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) welcomed new officers and seven new members to its board of governors during its annual meeting in the museum’s Van Lennep Auditorium. Newly elected to three-year terms on the museum’s board of

From left, Chris Havener, Allie Tyler, Dick Bodorff, Secretary Mark Nestlehutt, Vice Chairman Alan Griffith, Vice Chairman Joe Peters, President Langley Shook, Chairman CG Appleby, Dagmar Gipe, Frank Hopkinson, and Bill Dudley. (Not pictured: Jim Harris).

governors include: Richard Bodorff, William Dudley, Dagmar Gipe, James Harris, Christopher Havener, Francis Hopkinson, Jr. and Alfred Tyler II. Newly elected as board officers are Chairman CG Appleby; Vice Chairmen Joe Peters and Alan Griffith, Treasurer Tom Seip and Secretary Mark Nestlehutt.

The board also recognized retiring governors for their service, including Bruce Bedford, Stuart Clarke, Joanne Prager, and Bruce Wiltsie. Re-joining the board as emeriti members are Ted Lewers and Bob Perkins.

“This year’s class of governors is a welcomed addition to our leadership,” commented CBMM Board Chairman CG Appleby. “Each person’s experience and vision will ultimately make the museum a more meaningful place to visit, volunteer with, and belong to as members.”

Richard J. Bodorff is a partner with Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, DC, representing radio and television licensees before the Federal Communications Commission. Bodorff received a bachelor’s degree in English literature at Denison University and a Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University School of Law. He currently serves as the Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation’s vice chairman, and the vice chairman for the Academy Art Museum in Easton.

Bodorff also serves as trustee for Pickering Creek Audubon Center and YMCA of the Chesapeake.

William S. Dudley is the former director of Naval History for the United States Navy. He was concurrently director of the Naval Historical Center, curator for the Navy, and coordinator of Navy Museums. He holds three academic degrees: Williams College, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A. and Ph.D. Dudley is the author of many book reviews, articles, monographs, and documentary editions, including Maritime Maryland: A History, which was published in September 2010 by the Johns Hopkins University Press. The book received the Maryland Historical Trust’s Outstanding Heritage Book Award in May 2011.

Dudley is a past-president of the North American Society for Oceanic History and the Society for History in the Federal Government. Presently, he serves as maritime committee chair of the Maryland Historical Society, is on the board of directors of the Naval Historical Foundation, the editorial advisory committee of Sea History Magazine, is the historian general of the Naval Order of the United States, and is an appointed member of the Maryland advisory committee on archaeology. Dudley retired from the Naval Historical Center in 2004, and currently works as a maritime heritage consultant, serving as historical advisor to the Annapolis Maritime Museum and the Ocean Technology Foundation, Groton, CT. He is an appointed member of the resources and stewardship advisory committee of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

Dagmar Dunn Pickens Gipe was born and raised in Houston, TX. She earned her liberal arts degree from Greenbriar College and studied at the New York School of Interior Design before majoring in history and psychology at the University of Texas. Gipe worked in design and antiques for many years, owning a shop in Virginia. Now focusing on investments, Gipe serves as vice president of the John S. Dunn Research Foundation in Houston and served on CBMM’s board of governors from 2000 to 2006.

James P. Harris retired in February 2010 as senior vice president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, located in Houston, TX where he was a member of the chemical company’s management committee for more than 15 years. Harris earned a degree in chemical engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Georgia Tech Advisory Board and the board of directors of the Christus Foundation for HealthCare. While with ExxonMobil, he was a member of the board and executive committee of the European Chemical Industry Council, serving a total of seven years. He was also an operating board member of American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and served as chairman of the American Plastics Council in 2001. Georgia Tech named Harris to the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Graduates in 1996 and the Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011.

Christopher A. Havener is the founder and managing director of Royal Oak Capital Management, with 24 years of experience in financial markets, including institutional sales/research and trading, equity capital markets and derivatives. Prior to founding Royal Oak Capital Management, Havener spent five years at Merrill Lynch as a senior vice president and five years at Credit Suisse First Boston as Global Head of the Investment Banking Services Group. Chris received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland and holds a Series 65 securities license.

Francis Hopkinson, Jr. retired from a career in information technology specializing in telecommunications at AAA Mid-Atlantic. He and his wife, Jane, moved from Philadelphia to St. Michaels in 2007. Hopkinson served 12 years with the Pennsylvania National Guard, and is currently a marine surveyor. He is involved with many non-profit organizations in St. Michaels, including the St. Michaels Fire Department, Habitat for Humanity Choptank, and as a volunteer for CBMM.

Alfred Tyler II has more than 20 years experience in the environmental services industry, currently serving as president of Days Cove Reclamation Company, a full service solid waste management firm specializing in reclaiming surface mining and other industrial sites in conjunction with the management of construction and demolition debris (rubble) landfills. Tyler is the immediate past chairman of the Pride of Baltimore I, a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer.

Blues DeVille at Muskrat Park June 30

Blues DeVille will perform at Muskrat Park this Thursday, June 30th for the St. Michaels Summer Concert Series.
Bring your blanket or camp chair, a picnic lunch (NO alcohol, please!), and all the friends and kids you can muster for a delightful evening by the water.  Free

Blues DeVille


Sunday Cooking — Blueberries for The Fourth of July

When I was a kid, there were four ways to deal with blueberries – in pie, in cake, in muffins and in a bowl with plenty of cream and sugar. And of course, all by the themselves out of hand – sorry, five ways. But some of the great, creative cooks and chefs who have arisen in the intervening never-mind-how-many years began inventing.  And collectively, they came up with fabulous ways to enjoy blueberries, ways that range from soup, salads and sauces through elegant main dishes to desserts that make plain old blueberry pie (two crusts, tinned filling, which was heavy on the sugar, additives and preservatives) look like second-tier fast food.

But when you have lots of fresh blueberries – possible here in The Land of Pleasant Living since we live close to at least two places where you can pick buckets of ‘em at Lockbriar’s and Godfrey’s – there are tons of terrific possibilities. The Silver Palate girls, who had a shop and catering business in New York, were the first ones I ever stumbled across who were talking about truly innovative ingredients like blueberry vinegar, Blueberry Lemon Zest Vinaigrette and blueberry chutney, which they slathered on spare ribs. You can also use the chutney to top goat cheese or cream cheese on slim, toasted slices of baguette for hors d’oeuvres, or on top of sweetened mascarpone in a cookie crust for a sweet-tart dessert.

Blueberries (Vaccinium), which also grow wild here in Maryland, are cultivated on either high bush or low bush deciduous shrubs. In addition to producing their fabulous berries, which the birds love, they are lovely, three-season bushes that are great additions to the garden provided you have slightly acid soil. In late spring, they sport clusters of creamy little bell-like blooms that turn into berries around the end of June into July. In fall, their foliage turns beautiful shades of crimson, russet and copper. Blueberries are easy to pick due to the way they grow in firm little clusters at the ends of the branches. They are firm enough to travel well, and keep longer than softer fruits like strawberries and raspberries, so you can stick a big container in the frig for quick snacks. They also freeze easily – pop them fresh into a freezer bag and then into the freezer. That’s it.

Blueberries are one of the super-fruits. Packed with vitamin C – in a single 1-cup serving you get almost 25% of your recommended daily allotment — they are also a great antioxidant.

But let’s face it: their big draw is the table. Buckles and cobblers and compotes, Oh my! And blueberries considerately ripen in time to make flag-themed desserts for the Fourth. Below are links to two of them: Red, White and Blue Sour Cream Tart; and Old Glory Dessert, which in the recipe linked below is made with store-bough cookie dough, but can easily be made with a bottom of homemade shortbread –1 ¾ cup flour, 2 sticks unsalted butter, ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, pinch salt. Throw it all in the food processor for about 15-20 seconds (it will be crumbly) and pat it into the pan (this is a fun thing for clean little helper hands to help with) then follow the Old Glory recipe. Or, if you’re looking for something cool to serve your guests on what looks to be a hot weekend coming up, try the blueberry soup – simple, refreshing and delicious.

This recipe comes from the original Silver Palate Cookbook * by Julie Russo and the late Sheila Lukins, who had a wonderful imagination for new flavors and food combinations.  I modify their recipe, barely, to suit my own pantry and tastes.


Blueberry Soup

5 cups blueberries, either fresh or frozen

4 cups water

cinnamon stick or ½ tsp cinnamon

3 whole coves (they suggest 4)

2/3 cup honey

1 lemon, juiced

1 tblsp blueberry vinegar **(or apple cider vinegar)

3 tblsp Crème de Cassis (black currant liquor)

Rinse the berries, pick through and remove any shriveled or green ones then put them into a large pot with the water, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stir in honey and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until the berries are quite soft. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Force through a sieve, a strainer or a food mill. Stir in lemon juice, vinegar and Crème de Cassis. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Their recipe calls for garnishing with yogurt, fresh berries and grated orange rind, which is elegant, but I never bother with. Blueberry soup is wonderful for breakfast on a steamy morning, or as a pick-me-up at around teatime when you’re flagging and iced tea just isn’t going to do it.

*There’s a 25th anniversary edition of Silver Palate Cookbook out now which, according to the look I had in Amazon, has photos in addition to the whimsical line drawings that are in my battered original.

** You can make your own blueberry vinegar simply by adding 1 cup of crushed blueberries to 2 cups of white vinegar and letting it sit, covered, on a counter somewhere for several days. Pour off the vinegar through a strainer (but don’t mash the berries through or it gets cloudy) and use it in this recipe and others. Lasts ages and makes a nice gift to a cooking friend.

Blueberry chutney is an easy thing to make, too. It’s a delicious addition to a slice of ham and cheese with a green salad, is great with chicken salad, and goes well with baked bluefish. Below is a link to a recipe.



Mikulski and Cardin Frustrated Over Pace of Oyster Permitts

The Washington Post is reporting Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin have lodged a complaint with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the slow pace of approving oyster aquaculture projects.

Read more>

TV Fast-Food Ads Encourage Childhood Obesity

TV advertisements for sugary and fatty foods are playing a role in childhood obesity and ought to be taken off the air, a leading group of pediatricians says.

In a policy statement released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media rips “the media” for contributing to child and adolescent obesity, ticking off the many ways in which screen time is a negative influence. The group called on doctors to ask Congress and regulatory groups to ban advertisements for junk food and fast food during kids’ programming, as well as advertisements targeted to children via cellphone and other media.

For the whole story:,0,4493308.story

Bringing Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Green Violetear at a feeder

Creating a garden to attract hummingbirds is very easy and a lot of fun. East of the Mississippi River the Ruby-Throated hummingbird is the only resident hummingbird; other types are called ‘accidentals.’ You may not know this but hummingbirds are important pollinators in our gardens. Hummingbirds are attracted to colorful flowers, particularly red flowers, with tubular shaped blooms such as our native honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens, Heuchera coral bells, Penstemon beard tongue,  Aquilegia canadense columbine, and Monarda  bee balm. Some other perennial favorite nectar sources are Oenothera evening primrose,  Veronia noveboracensis ironweed and Phlox paniculata summer phlox. One of their favorite perennials is   Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal flower with its dark red flowers that hummingbirds are known to fight over.

Hummingbirds use trees for nesting and cover so be sure to include the following native trees  in your landscape Fagus grandiflora beech, Betula nigra river birch, Tsuga canadensis eastern hemlock, Liriodendron tulipfera Tulip poplar, Quercus oaks and Acer rubrum maple. The understory tree Cornus florida dogwood serves as shelter and perching but also provides nectar when it is in bloom. Also, shrubs such as Viburnum dentatum arrowwood viburnum and Cephalanthus occidentalis buttonbush provide nectar and shelter or cover.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

If you have a small outdoor space  — from a large garden to a hanging basket on a balcony — simply add a beautiful hanging basket of colorful annuals, such as Fuchsia, Petunias, Lantana, Verbena or Geraniums. Any space that you have to offer will be used by hummingbirds.

Adding a hummingbird feeder to your garden will give you hours of enjoyment. You can watch from inside your house or even from a screened-in porch. Hummingbirds sometimes become so accustomed to non-threatening people, that they will visit a feeder near a patio while you sit quietly. Select a glass feeder because they are easiest to keep clean. A perch style feeder will allow the hummer to stop and drink. The hummingbird sugar water recipe is 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water. Boil water so the sugar dissolves completely and let cool. Do not use artificial colorings, honey or artificial sweeteners. Honey has spores that are toxic to hummingbirds, while artificial sweeteners do not give the hummingbird the needed energy. Keep feeder clean and in hot weather (over 90 degrees) clean the feeder every 2 days. Below that temperature, clean it 2 times a week and below 65 once a week. You can add sugar water in between cleanings, but In hot weather it is best to not fill feeder completely full and just add a little at a time keeping mixture fresh in the refrigerator. Creating a hummingbird habitat will give you lots of enjoyment and the hummingbirds will return year after year. Try to keep your feeder up until mid October so migrating hummingbirds can stop for a drink from your feeder on their way flying south.

Robyn Affron

Unity Church Hill Nursery

Check out the vimeo link below for a ruby-throated humming bird video


Chance to See Rocket over Easton

‘Great American Landscape’ @ South Street Gallery

Silver, by Gavin Brooks, Winner, Academy of Art Museum Best Use of Light Plein Air Easton 2009.

An opening reception for The Great American Landscape – Master Exhibit, will be held July 3, from – 5 – 8 pm at the South Street
Art Gallery in Easton, MD.

The exhibit will feature the five Grand Prize winners from Plein Air-Easton! 2005-2009, Gavin Brooks, Tim Bell, Robert J. Barber, Greg LaRock and Stewart White. The Exhibit continues through August 30th.

South Street Art Gallery
5 South Street, Easton MD 21601