Monday, December 29, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
This is the fifth year that I made cookies for my friends, coworkers and neighbors. Dan and I decided not to "buy" gifts for a Christmas several years ago, and then cookie baking grew a little bigger in scale. I feel like a little elf when trying to churn out these cookies but it is extremely rewarding once they are all packaged up and gifted. Hope your holidays with loved ones are filled with peace and joy, and yummy cookies.
Dan and I stopped by an orchard on the day after Thanksgiving and bought a bushel of second apples following Ken's advice. On top of the unbelievable price (we paid $8 for a bushel of royal Gala apples) those second apples looked and tasted very good! Just minor scratches and cracks were found and there was no bruising.
We have been eating lots of apples and now we have only a handful left for making a pie. We took out a juicer that we never used for the past five years and made fresh apple juice, twice. I also had some red Gala apples from the last farmer's market and made pink apple sauce using the red Gala and royal Gala apples. It was my first time making the apple sauce and it was really easy.
- Wash apples, cut them into chunks.
- Add two tablespoons of light brown sugar and a half cup of water for 12 apples. Cook until apples are soft enough that you can break the apple pieces easily with the back of a spoon.
- Take out your handy dandy food mill and separate the skin and seeds out.
- Now the sauce is ready for you to eat. I canned most of it for later use.
As I was sitting on the Metro this morning, wondering if I was going to get mugged for my giant tray of cookies, I was thinking of each and every one of you. Not that you lean toward a life of crime but that it would be nice if everyone carried cookies on the Metro...it would probably be a happier place. That's my holiday plug for peace and good will, this is Cakes for Cause's last plug for holiday cookies. We have gift packs of large and small cookies for the colleagues, neighbors, bus drivers, paper delivery people, and everyone else special in your life. Who wouldn't want to receive a bag of bite-sized treats that they can nosh on all day and think of you? Our elves stand ready to deliver through Christmas Eve so just give us a call (240-344-0295) or shoot us an email. We have limited quantities and flavors but everything is delicious. We also have a few boxes of frozen sugar cookies that would be perfect for a Christmas Eve family activity...and Santa's cookie plate!
Cakes for Cause
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Greetings from the farm. I'm writing today to remind you that I'll be at the Dutch Plant Farm Wednesday December 24 From 10 AM until 12:30 PM making Christmas deliveries. While I will be sending some extra product, it would be good to preorder so I know how much to send. If you have not placed your Christmas order, I need it by Monday morning. Possibilities include hams, crown roasts, leg of lamb, beef filet, boneless prime rib, standing rib roast, and Maple Lawn Farm turkeys. If you prefer another cut just let me know and I may be able to provide it. If you want to mark your calendar, my next visit to Frederick will be January 10.
In my job-job, I manage the Watershed Management Section at Frederick County Division of Public Works. One of my favorite projects that we do is coordinate the Monocacy and Catoctin Watershed Alliance (Alliance). We work with dozens of community partners to protect and restore water quality and habitat in Frederick County. Many of our partners are part of the agricultural community. You will be happy to hear that there are many farmers that are actively working to do what's best for the environment AND the farm. My father grew up on a dairy farm in Frederick County and passed his stewardship ethic on to his kids- it's exciting to be part of efforts that work on the synergies between supporting local agriculture and protecting the environment. One of my staff, Kay Schultz, coordinates the Alliance. She and Jessica Hunicke, my other staffperson, did an exceptional job putting together the winter quarterly newsletter- I want to share it with you, as it includes a number of awesome efforts taking place in our region that you can be proud of. Many of our Alliance partners work directly with the public on conservation activities and I encourage you to peruse the site to learn more about them.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sometimes it takes a long long time to discover a part that I am made of. I remember looking between the cracks of the roads and wondering how a tiny plant could start growing there. It is one of my earliest memories. I was always mildly obsessed with plants but didn't realize it. When I finally had my first garden and start playing in the dirt, sowing seeds and talking to plants, I was already 29. I wish it didn't take that long to find out that I am deeply rooted in the soil and that I feel a strong connection to the nature when I am tending to plants in a garden. I am not complaining though - I feel lucky to be able to continue gardening since I started.
Monday, December 15, 2008
The Common Market has long held relationships with local farmers. They have a nice page up that lists some of the farms they do business with, here. You'll recognize Summer Creek Farm from here. I learned from the website that my friend Mark Seibert also has a farm that works with the Common Market: Clear Spring Creamery. It's always exciting to see these partnerships. I will be looking over time for restaurants and stores that support local agriculture and will highlight them for you so you can support these people in return.
I was also excited to read about a place called Catoctin Mountain Botanicals that sells forest products like ginseng; I have been wanting to start up something in the woods at my mom and dad's place; I think this could be a good contact.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
"Local and sustainable food does not cost more, the price tag on local and sustainable food is the real price for food, and there are no hidden costs."
From a food market in Boston.
How true, if oversimplified, this is. In the field of economics, these hidden costs are known as "externalities." They are generally costs that are borne by the public rather than the consumer because they are not worked into the cost of a transaction. The world is suddenly becoming aware that it is a closed system, and that we can't afford environmental externalities. For example, the production and transportation of food using fossil fuels is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. This affects us all. By eating locally, we can cut back on carbon footprints.
Of course, there are many other benefits to eating locally, such as preserving local economies and keeping land in agriculture. We try here at Grown in Frederick to share with you the fun reasons to eat locally so that we can create a culture around local food and farms. My thought is that the farmers are there. The product is there. You are there. My job here is to connect you to the farmer in a way that would make sense to your life and make it better through good eating and farm experiences. But I also have ulterior motives because I am an environmentalist. I would like to see our food sustainable for future generations and for the environment for its own sake.
Why eat an apple from New Zealand when the apples now are so fresh? Visit a local farm market, like the Catoctin Mountain Orchard on Route 15 above Thurmont owned by my friend Robert Black, and taste how nuanced an apple can be. Or visit McCutcheon's Apple Products on Wisner street to see what wonderful products are made with local fruits from various farmers; I promise you that these places will bring you joy in the holiday season- and their products serve as excellent gifts. The McCutcheons make some of the best apple butter and preserves I have ever eaten. I believe they process products for many of the farms around here that the farms sell under their own labels. McCutcheon's has a holiday shoppe at the FSK mall. Why not stop in?
I want to thank you for reading Grown in Frederick. Yeon and I just started the blog this past summer but we have big plans for adding more writers and all kinds of good things in the new year. Talk to us about your experience with local food and gardening. Share your recipes with us. Tell us about your favorite farm outlet. We want to share this stuff with our readers, for so many good reasons.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Most of the flowers are from Shannon's garden. Shannon has one of the most prolific hydrangea bushes which I envy so much. Blue hydrangea that I used for red-white-blue arrangement above AND the pink and green hydrangea blooms below are all from Shannon's garden. One can't have too much hydrangea.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I was lucky to have tender lettuce till the beginning of July. I think it was because we had a pretty good rain at the early part of growing season this year. I grew 3 varieties and valentine did very well as well as red romaine lettuce.
Greetings from the farm. This is the weekend for the Clear Spring Historical Society open house. Plumb Grove is an 1831 farm house that will be decorated as if it were still the 19th century. The house is also filled with period furniture, most of which is from the Clear Spring area. Your favorite meat man will be stationed by the door to greet you. There will be good food and drink available and a $5 donation is requested. Plumb Grove will be open from 2-11 PM. The town garden club will also have several other houses open for tour. Most of the town churches will be open with music and there is also a chicken and waffle supper scheduled. The Plumb Grove decorations alone make the trip worth while. Plumb Grove is located at the intersection of North Martin Street and Broadfording Road in Clear Spring, MD.
I will be in Frederick this week. You can find me at the Dutch Plant farm from 10 AM until 12:30 PM. Pork will include tenderloin, pork chops, spare and country style ribs, boneless shoulders, ground pork, and bacon. Polish sausage will be available for the first time this year as well as country, hot Italian, mild Italian, sage, applewurst, maple, and bratwurst. Beef will include ribeye, strip, porterhouse, T-bone, sirloin, flank, and skirt steaks; eye round, boneless chuck, and sirloin tip roasts; stew cubes, and ground beef. Lamb will include loin, arm, and sirloin chops; racks, shanks, and ground lamb. There will also be whole, cutup, and stewing chickens. I will also have eggs, jellies, and cheese with all of the goat cheeses being restocked this week.
Christmas is just around the corner and my next Frederick visit will be Christmas Eve morning. That means it is time to place Christmas orders. Some possibilities are Maple Lawn Farm turkeys, smoked, fresh, or country cured hams; pork crown roast, pork tenderloin, boneless prime rib, standing rib roast, beef tenderloin, leg, and rack of lamb. If your preferred cut is not listed, ask about it's availability. My sisters can also provide your sweets. Cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cookies, tea breads, and peanut brittle are some of the possibilities.
The precipitation should be gone but cold temperatures will be back by Saturday. Stop on by and see my new market truck, which means I'm in the meat business at least 5 more years. Eat fresh, be well, and I will see you at the market.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Week of June 28: Poppies started to bloom. Echinacia and zinnia (which I started from seeds) started to bloom too. For a small vase, I placed delicate pale pink poppies from my garden and airy coral bells from Jen's garden. Don't they look so lovely together? Poppies were so pretty I asked myself 'what did I do to deserve this beautiful bloom?' But then I remembered that I have been obsessively buying and sowing poppy flower seeds every year. Yeh, it's about time. The small patch that I reserved for the poppy did very well, and tiny flower bloomed into October. I let them self sow quite a bit for next year. Hopefully I will see that papery delicate beauties again.
It was so nice of Jen to let me have one of her last rose bloom of the season. I surrounded the center piece rose with some zinnias (pink and orange) and echinacea from my garden, and petunia and butterfly bush flower from Jen's.
Isn't it nice to see pretty summer flowers in the darkest days of the year? As Shannon mentioned, I have some backlogs of photos which I would like to share, remembering the glory of the growing season and planning the next year's garden.
It's only been a few short weeks since the farmer's market ended but we've been pining away. Fortunately, several of you have made some holiday arrangements with us and we're looking forward to staying in touch until the spring. If there's any sweet treats you need, just give us at least a week's notice and we'll get it delivered fresh to you.
Important Cookie Announcement!
We have been trying to contact everyone who pre-ordered cookies from us and we're having some challenges. Apparently we can't read your handwriting and several emails and phone calls have bounced back to us. So, IF YOU ORDERED COOKIES FROM US and haven't yet confirmed your delivery, can you please contact us at email@example.com or call 240-344-0295. At this point we don't have any extra boxes of cookies so no new orders please but if we don't reach some people we may have some bonus boxes and we'll let you know as soon as we know.
Otherwise, we're off to the culinary school this Wednesday to roll and cut your cookies for you and we start delivering on Thursday...everyone preheat their ovens!
Important Cookie Photographs!
Did you know that cookies have lives just like the rest of us? Take a peek at how they spend their time when they're not working cookie exchanges, parties, and gift baskets
Visiting the reindeer forest...
Celebrity spokesmodels for local non-profit...
Moms and Dads, this is not a picture for everyone because secretly they hang out in their underwear and watch TV (didn't you already suspect that though?)...
If we don't see you or hear from you, we wish you the best this holiday season. We have appreciated your support all year. We're looking forward to opening our retail space this spring and being back at the farmer's markets again. Please don't forget that we are a mission-based organization. Every dollar you spend on cookies, scones and baked goods, helps us operate our program but you can also make a tax-deductible contribution to us as well and it is very much appreciated.
Cakes for Cause
Monday, December 8, 2008
Here is Farmer Rick from Summer Creek Farm on the last day of the Farmer's Market. I was admiring his insulated coveralls at the time I took this picture. My hand shook so much from the cold that the picture is a little blurry. You can tell how cold it is by Rick's grim face. Somehow he managed to have heirloom tomatoes in addition to radishes and his delicious potatoes. Rick is selling organic CSA memberships for next year and gift certificates if you want to give him a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Here we have the Rohrer siblings packaging up a chicken for some lucky fellow. There are ham sandwiches in some of those coolers and I crave them now that the market is over. "Meat Man" as my friends call him is still out on Saturday mornings in front of the Dutch Plant Farm. Or you can reach Danny at :
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
I took a bunch of photos at the last farmer's market of the year on Baughman's Lane and will try to share one a day during these winter months until I run out. Dan also took pictures. I asked Yeon what she would write about during the winter, and she has a backlog of material. So have no fears!
Here are some delicious products at Scenic View Orchards with an apple and pear theme. I like that they have candy apples. I am also a big fan of applesauce and no sugar added apple and pear butters. I could eat one of those pears right now.
Scenic View Orchards has its own shop on 550. They are closed at the moment but will be open December 13 and 14 for "holiday needs." See the website.
A new freeware graphics program and a new camera make blogging about Frederick foods even more fun.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The Maryland Department of Agriculture is giving away free Maryland Farm products to some lucky people who sign up on their mailing list here. You could win anything from wine, seafood, or honey to a Christmas tree (from Sewell Farms in Taneytown, where my friends Bryan and Jessica get their tree every year).
Hope you're a winner!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Just a note during the Holiday rush that if you are looking for a practical gift during this Holiday season for your friends and loved ones we can help. A gift that is very healthy and practical, a gift that is not made in some far away land or may contribute to the filling of our local landfill eventually, a gift that can be practical and memorable, you may consider giving a gift certificate from Summer Creek Farm to be used at the farmers market (any one we participate in) next season. We offer gift certificates in $5-$25.00, we will email you a certificate to print on your color printer (or mail one if you want us to print it up)! All I need is who it is to, the holiday you want mentioned (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, or just Winter Holiday) the amount you want it for and payment for that amount. We will honor the certificate at any farmers market during the 2009 season (May-October). Your friends will have choice of any produce on our table at that market.
This offer expires December 22, 2008 and the certificate can refer to a specific holiday this season or just a winter gift.