Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Annual cookie baking marathon came and went. I baked three kinds of cookies a day for three days in a row. I can't bake 4 or 5 different cookies a day like I used to... All-time favorites included

  • Lemon thin :double batch
  • Thumbellina (also called thumb print): double batch
  • Black and white chocolate: double batch, three variations
  • Mexican Wedding
  • Rosemary
Thumbellina cookies were especially adorable this year. I used 4 different jams/preserves that I made this year: strawberry balsamic, peach rosemary, raspberry, and concord. All the fruits were local with raspberry from our own back-yard garden. All the eggs were from Nancy and I weighted each egg to screen out large size eggs (between 2 and 2.25 oz). With no local flour mill around, it is hard to be "all local" when you bake, but I tried to use organic ingredient whenever possible.
Rosemary cookies were a bit different this year. Instead of chewy version that I have been making for the past 6 years, I made a buttery version but still kept the touch of lemon, by coating the dough with lemon sugar before cutting them to bake.

The new flavors/recipes for this year were
  • sesame
  • macadamia nut and coconut
  • cardamom with pistachio
  • mocha meringue
I put a little less flour by mistake in sesame cookies and they came out more like tulle, which I liked a lot - a fortunate mistake? I don't like coconuts in baked goods much, and thus seldom make coconut cookies. However, my coworker loves coconut and I love macadamia nut and thus tried the macadamia and coconut cookie recipe, which turned out very well.
I have to say cardamom cookies with pistachio topping was the best for me and Dan this year. It is really pleasing to find a new recipe you like and add it to the "favorite" list. Mocha meringue cookies are gluten free - Shannon, I kept some for you!

There are a few more recipes that I like to try to sweeten this weekend. Hope everyone stays safe and warm on this new year's eve. Have a happy and prosperous new year!



Monday, December 28, 2009

Maryland's Maple Syrup Industry

Did you know that Maryland has a maple syrup industry? When I was a kid, we would see demonstrations in the Catoctin mountains at Cunningham Falls State Park, and they are still doing them every year. Western Maryland still has some commercial maple syrup industries, and I discovered that you can buy the syrup up at Catoctin Mountain Orchard's farm stand on 15. I was excited, because I will add it to the gift box that my mom is making for our soon-to-be in-laws in Bogota, Colombia. Maple syrup is only produced in the Northeast US and Southeast Canada. Cool, huh?

The maple syrup industry in Maryland is threatened by climate change. According to the Maryland Climate Action Plan, prepared by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change that was appointed by the Governor, The maple-beech-birch forest of Western Maryland is likely to fade away, and pine trees will become more dominant in Maryland’s forests:

As the changing climate after the last Ice Age resulted in the northward shift in the distribution of tree species in eastern North America, 21st century warming will very likely result in the northward sift in the range of trees and forest types currently that exists in Maryland. Trees that need cold winter conditions (for example, sugar maples) or are susceptible to diseases or pests under warmer conditions will retreat northward, possibly replaced by species currently found south of Maryland. Plant hardiness zones for horticultural plants have recently been revised to take account of the changes in the potential ranges of garden plants that have already taken place...
Under a doubling of CO2 concentrations—likely to be experienced in the latter half of the century under the low-emissions scenario—the maple-beech-birch forests of Allegany and Garrett counties are likely to disappear, replaced by oak-hickory forests. The oak-hickory forest type that presently characterizes most of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain west of the Chesapeake is likely to transition to an oak-pine forest.
I was quoted in the Frederick News-Post about the changes in hardiness zones a few weeks ago because I also write a blog about global warming and Maryland called "local warming", and one of the commenters called me an idiot:
Shannon Moore said "Climate change is already being felt. "Our climate is warmer," she said. "Where we used to get snow, we get rain. We've changed our hardiness zones. That affects everything." I guess this idiot didn't hear the weather forecast for our area this weekend. I'm also guessing she wasn't present for the past couple winter storms we've already had this FALL. Maybe she didn't even see the latest on the scam produced by Al Gore about Global Warming... Maybe if she paid more attention in her science classes and not to her political party of choice she would have a better understanding of how the Earth and Weather goes through cycles. This is nature people. It happens.

Suffice to say, I have paid a lot of attention to my science classes! I thought this was funny and didn't take it personally. But it does remind me that there are many people out there who do not believe that climate change is occuring, and this mindset does an extreme disservice to our ability to address it. The reality is that our climate is shifting, and that will affect the industries in our region that produce our food.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Having the time of my life

Tonight my mom and I went out to Nilgiri's, a lovely Indian restaurant in Frederick on Route 85 near the Common Market. I was talking to a gentleman there, and we decided that 2010 would be the best year ever. He said that would be good, because 2009 was a terrible year, and I think he meant the economy. So we agreed that 2010 is going to be awesome.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! I've really enjoyed all of the get-togethers with friends and family, and the shared meals in peoples' homes. I realize that though I co-write a blog about local food, I don't cook often enough. I really enjoy it, and I kind of have to now that I can't eat so many foods. So next year I will cook more, and the year will be more awesome.

Seriously, I think 2010 is going to be my best year ever.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Local Holiday Gifts

April Finnen posted a great idea recently about giving away locally made items in a holiday gift basket. I reposted her idea, because I loved it. Last night I had the opportunity to make use of her suggestions. My Mom was trying to figure out what kind of a gift to bring to Bogota for the family of my sister's fiancee, for the wedding. I didn't even have to think. I told her we should put together a basket of treats made from local products that would be like bringing a little bit of our world to theirs. Of course, she loved the idea. I went to Zoe's and bought some of their candy canes. Then Mom and I had a mother-daughter outing last night and went to the McCutcheon's store in the mall. They had lots of mini jars of their products- I got my personal favorites:

  • apple butter
  • cherry butter
  • black raspberry preserves
  • blueberry preserves
  • triple crown (raspberry, cherry and strawberry) preserves

Mom also got a tote with a silkscreen of Frederick icons on it, and picked up some Rosebud lip salve, which is made in nearby Woodsboro. I will pick up a few more things before we go, but I thought this was an awesome start.



Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Better, Part II

Part I of this post talked about how I discovered that I had an autoimmune disorder that was triggered by food, changed my diet, and began to feel amazingly better. In Part II I am going to talk about improvements I have noticed since November 6, and my trials and tribulations with food. It's hard to believe that my life has radically changed in less than two months, all from eating better, but it has:

  • Brain fog: In November, I noted that "the fog in my brain is about 60% gone. I can concentrate and remember things". The brain fog is 90% gone.
  • Mental Fatigue: In November, it was about 40% better. Today, it's gone. Things don't feel as intense as they did at first but I have also gotten more used to stimulus.
  • Physical Fatigue: The only time I deal with unusual physical fatigue now is when I eat something weird that knocks me out or makes my muscles weak. Otherwise, 100% gone. Also, I am uncomfortable sitting for long stretches at a time now. I also walk 4 times as much as I used to, have been back to the gym, and have been doing fun things like hiking and sledding.
  • Constant pressure on the top and sides of my head: This only returns when I eat something weird, but otherwise, it's gone.
  • Chronic hip pain: Gone.
  • Plantar fasciitis: Was 50% better by November 6, is about 90% better now. I have been walking everywhere. Sometimes I'll do a walk and have more energy and then do another walk, and my feet don't hurt.
  • Leaden limbs: gone unless I eat something weird
  • Inability to wake in the morning: This is one of the most discouraging symptoms from narcolepsy for me because people think I am lazy. I reported in November that it was about 25% better. Now it is about 75% better.
  • Constant depression: Gone. Sometimes if I eat something wrong, I can tell the next day because I feel hopeless, but it goes away in a day.
  • Asthma: It was about 50% better in November and it's about 60% better now. It's a little slower going than I would like but I can't complain.
  • General Fatigue: About 50% better.

In November, I hadn't tried to reintroduce any foods. I discovered through trials and tribulations of food reintroduction this past month that I can't eat wheat, corn or dairy. I also found out randomly after having a reaction to some contact lens solution that my body has problems with preservatives (My Opthamologist, Dr. Kracher, told me it was "definitive", that he has a few other patients like me, and to avoid eating and using preservatives). My reactions to some things are freaky.

Food sensitivities are no problem at all when I am cooking for myself- in fact, I have started to cook a lot more. I have made the most excellent dinners- like the pork loin with Indian spice rub served with a tart cherry gravy, or the gluten-free chicken pot pie. I have found the Common Market to be awesome because they don't carry food with preservatives, and have a lot of wheat, dairy, and corn-free products. They really cater to people like me. I was telling this to Sally Fulmer from the Common Market the other day in gratitude, only to find out that she has a gluten sensitivity and recovered when she stopped eating it. I find that when I cook my food, avoid too many sugars and carbs, and focus on eating lots of fresh vegetables, I feel like a brand new person.

A problem for me is eating in restaurants. There are very few places I can eat and feel safe. And of these places, there are very few dishes I can eat. This is not a big deal for someone who does not go out to eat much but it's a big part of my life. Or it was. Here's what I can eat in downtown Frederick:

  • Five guys: A burger without a roll with sauteed onions and tomato. Luckily I didn't have reactions when I reintroduced tomatoes and beef. Buy the way this isn't the most exciting meal but I was able to go out one day with my staff.
  • The Orchard: Grilled chicken house salad with no soy (haven't tried to reintroduce it yet) and the chicken curry over rice.
  • Juliet's Italian Market: Curry chicken salad, artichoke antipasti, tuna fish salad on regular salad.
  • Volt: anything made gluten and dairy free. I have had so many dishes there I can eat- they will really cater to people with special dietary needs. I've had sturgeon, pork, chicken, hanger steak, bass, mushroom risotto...
  • Moxie: Tea. Yeah I know other people serve tea. But I like that place.
  • Lucky Corner: Chicken Pho and maybe the Chicken curry.

I am not obsessed with chicken curry, it's just that it's made with coconut milk rather than dairy and wheat, and I can eat it. Literally, those are all the restaurant foods I have found so far. Not to say there aren't others. I have tried many things that looked safe, only to have a reaction later. Here's the typical reactions. The exact reaction differs depending on the food:

  • Instant headache
  • Head, neck and shoulder ache within 20 minutes of eating something
  • Feeling my stomach turn/flip, feeling nauseous
  • Feeling pain creep into my wrist, hip and knee joints within 20 minutes of eating something
  • Weakness in legs the day after eating something
  • Not being able to put the offending food in my mouth physically or feeling a shock run down my arm to my had when I touch it. I know this is really weird and I can't explain it.
  • Feeling bombed-out exhausted within 20 minutes of eating something. This happened at a dinner out with friends and was kinda embarrassing.
  • Burning mouth, tongue and lips. Why I never felt this before I eliminated food and reintroduced it, I don't know.
  • Feeling depressed the day after eating something
  • Asthma the day after I eat something

I have strategies now to help me avoid getting into situations where I am really hungry and have no good options:

  • Eat before going out, and then just have fun with friends and drink water. This way I still get to go out and enjoy people's company.
  • Drink a protein shake before going out, so that I am not hungry but not totally full. That way if there is something I can eat then I have the option.
  • Carry Rawnola bars in my purse. I have tried every other kind of bar and they all make me feel terrible because of the carbs and sugars in them. Rawnola bars have only 4 g sugar and 15 total g carbs including fiber. I am going to try to start making my own granola and see if it's good.
  • Invite friends over for meals. Living alone, I like to have company, and my friends are more than willing to eat at my house. They also return the favor- one friend brings bags of potatoes from his farm and tropical fruit salad, another helped to shovel out my car from the recent blizzard. I have been a little concerned that my new tastes won't suit people (I am adverse to most sugar, for example, unless it's fruit) but have been pleasantly surprised. My friends that are athletes are excited to eat my food because their bodies recognize it as good fuel; I find this very rewarding.

I thought I would have problems visiting at other peoples' houses but I have avoided the dinners. A friend of mine made dinner for a couple of our friends the other night and I tried to dissuade him from trying to cook for me. But he was unyielding and went ahead and made me the most beautiful composed plate with a beef stir fry that had persimmon slices as garnish. I don't know how he figured it out but I could eat everything in it. I was floored. THANK YOU.

I think I might have an inner athlete coming out. Long after high school was over, my sister, the athlete, told me that she had always resented me. Her track coach told her that if she had longer legs, she could have been in the Olympics. I had the longer legs. I was always reading, always tired, not vital. But here I am emerging from this cocoon and lo and behold, I have lost 20 pounds in the past 2 months and am discovering that I am very strong. My athletic friends have adopted me and will be helping me to get my body into shape. I am so excited about this!!!

I am worried about going to Bogota, Colombia in the beginning of January for my sister's wedding. How can I prepare for that? I am really scared, actually. How can I plan my meals when I am at the whim of other people? My sister is already there, so I am sending her an email in hopes that we can figure something out.

Anyway, this has been my update and observations from the past two months. My life is changed. I am so excited that local food is such a huge part of this plan, and am thankful for the farmers in my life who create the food that my body thrives on. Your work means everything to me.



Getting Better, Part I

I've dropped mentions here and there about how I have changed my diet and have had profound results. I thought I would post here about what I have done, why I did it, and how my life has changed. I am having the most exciting time of my life, getting better. This post is different from most and is kind of long, but bear with me. This is Part I and focuses on my progress after 1 week, back in November. Part II will catch me up to now and will discuss more about food especially local food, which is what I am really getting into.

I wrote the following on November 6:

A few months ago, I read a posting on a narcolepsy list serve that recommended an article in August's Scientific American( about a bunch of genetically linked disorders (narcolepsy, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, MS, etc), and how scientists had recently proven that several of the disorders (narcolepsy, celiac) are T-cell disorders. The article was specifically focused on celiac, and how the disease process starts with two conditions (leaky gut and overactive T-cell response) but doesn't turn into a disease until people eat wheat- the wheat is only partially digested, passes through the leaky gut, and is recognized as an antigen by the body, which attacks the places where it is found. It doesn't just attack the stomach- I did more reading and realized that it can attack other organs like bones and the brain. So I thought I would do a test, and I quit eating gluten back in August. And I started to feel a little better. Basically my depression lifted and I felt a little healthier. And then I thought, maybe it's not just gluten. And I wanted to find someone who could help me eliminate things systematically from my diet and figure out piece by piece. A naturopathic doctor named Dr. Sinclair was recommended to me, and he told me that he thought I had adrenal fatigue, perhaps as a result of diet, and prescribed a cleanse with elimination diet and an adrenal supplement.

I am going to make a prediction here that you might think is crazy but I think I am going to get better now. I mean all the way better.So far here is what is different from starting on the plan just this past Saturday 10/31:
  • The fog in my brain is about 60% gone. I can concentrate and remember things. I noticed this yesterday when reciting lines for my acting class and actually remembered them.
  • Mental Fatigue during the day: 40% better. I am no longer bumping into walls. My voice does not slur from sleepiness when I try to talk. I feel a little spring in my step. I also noticed listening to music in the car the other day that I felt like I could really listen to it. It was intense. Like freaking great. My attention has improved significantly.
  • Physical Fatigue: I raked the leaves in the yard, mowed them, and mowed the rest of the yard the other day with no problem. I was only counting on being able to rake the leaves. Today I walked a mile on my way to and from lunch. It was fun. I am actually looking forward to going back to the gym this weekend.
  • Constant pressure on the top and sides of my head (My physician once sent me for an MRI for this complaint): 90% gone within three days of first starting Isocort. CRAZY.
  • Chronic hip pain that I notice after walking for a mile or when trying to sleep that I have had since childhood: gone within three days. I am excited about this because it means I have started walking again and should be able to walk to work again (about 2 miles per day)- I am going to try next week. It also means that I will sleep better because I roll around a lot from the pain.
  • My foot soreness is also about 50% better as of today. The heel pain from the plantar fasciitis is about 60% gone.
  • Leaden limbs, especially legs and feet: gone within five days. I walk around all sprighty now instead of dragging my clumpy feet around. Pretty cool.
  • Inability to wake in the morning: about 25% better than normal after 6 days (today). This is HUGE. I actually feel an alertness in me when I waken. IT'S FREAKY. Is this how you people feel? I guess that's how you can get up in the morning, huh? I just let the snooze go about a hundred times until I gradually come out of a coma and drag my carcass into the shower.
  • Constant depression: Already somewhat better from not eating gluten starting back in August. But within 1 day of taking the IsoCort, I actually had happy, positive thoughts in my head that I did not have to put there with extreme conscious effort. Walking down the street with Lucy last night I was thinking about how I am excited about my life in general, which never happens. I am usually just happy about a particular thing but feel blah in general. I am not dreading winter any more. I am noticing that people are reacting to me a lot more positively. I also don't feel like I am having the winter blahs anymore and I am no longer afraid of this winter.
  • The tension and stiffness in the back of my neck is gone. The old lady bump on the back of my neck- I actually noticed this morning that it is reducing in size. FOR REAL.
  • Asthma: about 50% better. I was using the inhaler last week but have not needed it this week. I am still feeling some inflammation. I can catch a deep breath now more and more.

It's totally weird that a lot of the random problems I have struggled with all now appear to be connected. As I read up on adrenal fatigue I see that things like pressure on the top of the head, hip pain, asthma, digestive problems, gradual weight gain, insulin resistance, and frequent lung infections are common symptoms that get better with treatment. This is pretty wild.

My Dad advised me not to get my hopes up the other day, but I thought this was totally lame, and am way past that point. The only thing I am afraid of is a Flowers for Algernon situation where all of this progress suddenly starts to decay. But I do not think this will happen. I have read online about other people who have adrenal fatigue, and if the medicine works, it usually keeps working. A lot of people don't see results right away- it takes a month or so. So I am really curious to see if I will keep getting better, and at what point I will stop. I also am not afraid to look forward to things, dammit. Expect the best. The worst can look out for itself.

I'll be working with the naturopath to see if we can't figure out what is causing the fatigue in the first place. He thinks it could be an autoimmune food sensitivity and believes I will continue to get better. His goal is to see if I can eventually go off the medicine for narcolepsy - he thinks I will - I feel like I am so much better than I was but this is just by contrast, and I definitely still need the narcolepsy meds to stay awake during the day. But I AM so much better than I was - this is so manageable - that I feel like my life is being given back to me. But my idea of a better life versus a normal life may be totally different. I actually have no idea how it feels to be normal and be able to wake up in the morning and do my hair, or have energy when I come home from work to clean anything. My idea of better is just not feeling tortured by exhaustion. I really don't even know how to anticipate anything better than that. But I bet it would be awesome. Imagine your whole life has involved sloshing through mud up to your neck, and suddenly the mud goes away.

What is exciting for me now is that I might have found some answers to the problems I have had not just since I was a teenager, but perhaps also my whole life. Even if this is all the better I get I am totally excited. But the prospect of getting really better- of having a condition that can be treated, not just managed, is awesome. I also think it's interesting that adrenal fatigue is a condition that is not accepted by the mainstream medical establishment. I gave them 36 years and the could not do what a naturopath was able to do in a single office visit.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Cream

  • 1 big bowl of clean snow
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c milk or cream
Pour sugar over the snow. Mix the vanilla and milk together and pour over sugar. Mix with a mixing spoon and add more milk as necessary to make a slushie-like consistency. Scoop into serving dishes and eat with spoons.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

CSA memberships from Summer Creek Farm

Looking for that last minute Christmas gift with the current snow storm raging outside? Just a reminder that a CSA membership makes a great gift in the season. Healthy, fun and practical. Good food in the new year and no trip to the store to get it.

We also offer gift certificates of the value of your choice for our products at the Farmers Market next spring/summer. Just let me know what you are looking for and I can email it out next week to you.

I hope you are enjoying the snow, tomorrow we are on snow removal duty in the area!

Farmer Rick


Fresh this week from Rohrer's Meats

Greetings from the farm. I not sure if the weather forecasters are serious or if they just like to get people excited. But it might get interesting the next few days.

Last Thursday I had dozed off while watching television when I was wakened by a noise on my front porch. I turned the TV off and listened. It sounded like small hooves. Did Santa get confused and arrive early? Perhaps Mrs. Santa had been nagging too much and he needed to get away for a while. Or maybe he had too much eggnog at the workshop Christmas party and he became disoriented. But this was on my front porch, Santa should be on the roof. My next thought was maybe Santa's reindeer had escaped from their field. Being the caretaker of farm animals, I know all too well that they enjoy a little freedom on occasion. They are good at breaking fences, jumping over fences, finding an open gate, discovering an electric fence was turned off, or finding where a negligent driver drove through a fence. I knew that I needed to round up his critters before they strayed too far so he could get them home. Was I ever surprised when I opened the front door. It was a lamb! And 9 of her stable mates were at the foot of the steps watching. Then I remembered. When I feed these youngsters, they always crowd around the gate making it difficult to enter the pen. I step back and let a few of them come out before I go in. They then follow my back into the pen to enjoy their meal. Only this evening one curious critter followed the fence line in the opposite direction and stood there watching her friends eat. I knew that was no problem. I left the gate open knowing that sheep are social animals and don't like being alone. The stray would come back on it's own. I went on to do the rest of my chores, planning to stop back and close the gate on my way back to the house. But with me sometimes being absent minded, you know what happened. It was cold and icy that evening. I knew my babies would not stray far from the buildings. I decided to give them a night of freedom. A little while later, there was more of a racket on the porch. There were now six of them tap dancing on the wooden deck. I had counted enough sheep that night and went on to bed and was soon sound asleep. The next morning, all ten of the "wanderers" were back in their pen, gate still open, lying in the warm straw, waiting on their breakfast.

I will return to Frederick on December 24 from 10 AM until 12:30 PM at the Dutch Plant Farm. While I will be making Christmas deliveries, I will have my complete product line as well. Beef will include ribeye, porterhouse, strip, sirloin, flank, and skirt steaks; eye round, boneless chuck, and sirloin roasts; stew cubes, ground round, and steak burgers. Pork will include boneless loin roasts, pork chops, spare ribs, country style ribs, baby back ribs, bacon, smoked ham steaks, and pulled pork. I should also have all seven flavors of sausage. Lamb will include boneless shoulder roasts, loin chops, arm chops, racks, shanks, stew cubes, and ground lamb. I will also have whole chickens, cutup chickens, boneless/skinless breasts, legs/thighs, and wings. I will also have cheese, including the goat cheeses you bought at the market. There will also be eggs and jams. If you still need to order Christmas dinner, there is time. Some suggestions are fresh, country cured, or smoked hams; beef standing rib roast, boneless prime rib, filet, or sirloin tip; pork loin roasts and crown roasts; leg or rack of lamb; turkeys and turkey breasts.

Please have your orders in by noon Monday. I am doing three markets that day and need to know how to allocate product. While I do enjoy a good snow, I'm not sure I am ready for two feet of it this weekend. May your holiday season be the best ever and I hope your wish list includes fresh local foods. Eat fresh, be well, and I will see you at the market.

DannyRohrer's Meats


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lucky one

As promised, here are some more photos of the plants. We set up a small table in our guest bedroom so that we can keep some plants indoor over the winter. The first one you see is orange Thai pepper. I think they are also called birds eye pepper. I have grown them several times in the past years, but didn't know that they also come in orange color till Charles gave a seedling to me and Dan as a gift. It had a slow start, but grew prolific and gorgeous by November. I pot it up and now it sits by window sill. If I don't have aphids attacking the plant, I think I should be able to overwinter it. The peppers are excellent in Thai food and any type of stir-fried food.

You might remember the lonely lime blossom that I had early this year. Well, this little lime tree is such a trooper. It bloomed quite heavily and heavenly in the late spring and started to bear fruits. Then this fall it started to bloom again. According to Charles, they bloom several times a year! I am really excited to try the fruits. Some are about an inch in diameter now so I should be able to harvest a couple soon.

I love rosemary flowers. They are very delicate and delicious and taste like, well, rosemary but subtle. My rosemary plant in the raised bed never flowered, I wonder if it is ever going to flower? Whenever I saw Cakes for Cause's rosemary bushes blooming, I had to pick one or two flowers off and pop them in my mouth (of course after Elin's permission). When I saw this creeping rosemary plant spilling over the hanging basket , I had to adopt her. Mellisa smiled seeing me torn between this flowering rosemary basket and a small bay tree guy with five leaves! Well, rosemary won and now she is staying in my guest bed room too.

Do you remember the last Sunday in November this year? How the air was so warm and the sun was so gentle, and it made you think maybe, just maybe, this magical Fall is going to extend forever? Dan and I worked in our backyard garden that day and our friend Ricardo stopped by. We sat around the table chatting and absorbing every golden particle of the sun ray. Ric said he had orchid plants for us, disappeared, and appeared again with two orchid plants. I never grew orchids before and have no CLUE what I am doing. They are also staying in our guest bedroom.

How lucky am I to have these wonderful friends who give me plants as gifts, and also to be able to adopt plants from caring farmers and gardeners?




Tuesday, December 15, 2009

April F's great idea: local gift basket

April Finnen gets the prize today for having a good idea. She needed to come up with a gift basket for an office party, so she put together one using products from Frederick County. Here are the contents of her basket, quoted from her blog page:

  • Elk Run Vineyard wine - I chose a chardonnay, since that's all the liquor store was offering, and I didn't have time to visit the vineyard. (Making this basket could really be a full-time job.)
  • Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale - I sent my husband out for this one, with the request only that he didn't choose the Raging Bitch... this is a work party, after all.
  • Dublin Roasters Guatelmalan Antigua artisan roasted coffee, hand-roasted in New Market, Md. I was hoping for some Highlander Grogg, but the selection is whatever's been recently roasted. I also picked up a couple other items for the basket in their cute little store, including:
  • Local honey from Bill McGiffin's apiary in Mt. Airy, Md., and
  • A selection of Seven Angels lotions, made in New Market. I think I've seen them at farmers markets too.
  • While in New Market, I stopped at the New Market General Store, hoping for something small by a local artist. I found McCutcheon's Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix, and some Swedish fish (for my husband, not the basket).
  • And what basket would be complete without chocolate? First, a variety box from Perfect Truffle in Frederick's Shab Row.
  • Finally, my personal favorite, a Raw Bar (with cocoa nibs) and an Espresso Bar from Zoe's Chocolate, a relatively new addition to downtown Frederick.
I think this is a fantastic idea. Other thoughts: McCutcheon's has their factory outlet on Wisner and a store at the FSK mall. Zoe's also has the world's best candy canes, according to Saveur Magazine. For wine, also check out Berrywine Plantations/Linganore Winecellers, Black Ankle Vineyards, Frederick Cellars, Loew Vineyards, and Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards. Flying Dog was ranked one of the best American breweries by Forbes and won best in show at the Great American Beer Festival this year as the best mid-size brewing company in America. The Common Market has some local gift items, as does the Muse (disclaimer- I sell my necklaces at the Muse).

While I am on the topic of local gifts, if you are looking to participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) next year and get fresh produce all season, Several may still have openings.
  • Summer Creek Farm, Farmer Rick Hood (organic),
  • Mt Zion CSA, Farmer Chad Stull (organic),, 301.473.7068
  • Thanksgiving Farm, Darby Zimmermann, 301.662.1291
What are your local gift ideas?


Top Chef, Tasting Notes, and Home Cooking

Where do I start? This past week has been a culinary whirlwind. Let's start with Top Chef.

I was sitting at the bar at Volt Wednesday, watching the TV screen as brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio waited with urgent intensity to hear which one of them would be crowned Top Chef. When Michael heard his name called, he transformed. It was actually one of the more beautiful things I have seen. I grew up with a younger brother who was always somehow second to me in the eyes of other people because I was good, and did the right things, and was brilliant, and succeeded. My brother, also brilliant, was unable to follow other peoples' rules, was often angry and inappropriate, and was always asked, "what is wrong with you" and "why did you do that" and "why can't you be more..." It was hard to watch Bryan not win; I know how good of a chef he is, and how much he fought for it. But it was wonderful to watch Michael win, because there was that moment where he had permission to see himself differently. I hope it is a seed that grows within him his whole life. Some people say the title was stolen from Bryan- I don't know, I didn't try Michael's food. The episode was set up to make you think that Bryan would win, but the blogs from the judges have been more informative. They were torn. They duked it out all night. There were people who thought Bryan should win and people who pulled for Michael. In the end, the vote was the vote. But it was close.

The Voltaggios are brothers, after all, and they have decided to become successful together as a team. Check out their website. A rising tide floats all boats. The person I was more sorry for was Kevin, as he had his first real bad day and the show dispensed with him so unceremoniously. But others have said, and it appears to be true, that he has an illustrious career ahead of him. He has a certain genius to him, that much is obvious, and he is a fan favorite. He also has the ability, like the Lee Brothers (whose cookbook is at Ollie's right now for $6.99- GO BUY IT), to tell a story about Southern cooking that elevates it from the prejudices of the North and West.

Kevin and Bryan both talked a lot about using local, fresh ingredients; I think this really distinguished the two of them. Great food starts with great ingredients. Our local tourism industry will be putting together an initiative to bring people to Frederick for our cuisine, and they will be highlighting the proximity to high quality local ingredients as part of the campaign. I give Bryan a lot of credit for developing the concept that Frederick will be capitalizing on as a result of his success.

I look forward to seeing more from all of the chefs. Most of all, I am proud of them- how they helped each other and wanted to win because they were the best, not because someone else lost. I think the tone for this was really set by Bryan. The production team loved Bryan the best because he was always charitable, easy to get along with, kind. It's a long-term philosophy, to treat yourself and others well, that in my experience always pays off in the end. And Top Chef is just the beginning. Bryan is also now a celebrity and that's kind of weird. But them's the breaks. I am sure it's weird for him too. Stay true.

I went to Georgetown this weekend with my friends Chris and Karly. We hung out at the GORGEOUS apartment of his sister Kelly and her husband. I was inspired by the place, as it really is focused on art, and by the people who have a love of fine food. We went to a restaurant that was just around the corner from their place, called Urbana. The Executive Chef there is Alexander Bollinger, who used to work with Bryan V. at Charlie Palmer. I had three courses on the tasting menu for $39 and was stuffed; the courses were also excellent. Some notes:

  • Portugese kale stew with cannellini beans, creamer potatoes, laughing bird shrimp, and chorizo. The broth in this soup was outstanding and had a lovely balance of shrimp and chorizo. The shrimp was a tad bit more cooked than I like but I am weird about seafood and like it just as the proteins denature (turning the shrimp from translucent to white) and not a second more. $11. A very big bowl and a hearty soup.
  • Ahi tuna tartare with 61 degree egg, warm applewood smoked bacon and banyuls sherry vinaigrette with crispy house made fennel crackers. I had this without the crackers since I am wheat-free. For those interested, 61 degrees is significant because it is the temperature at which egg white and yolk are at the same consistency- silky, velvety, and thick. The way this is achieved is by cooking sous-vide. Sous-vide is done by vacuum-sealing the food and then putting it in a water bath that is calibrated to a precise temperature. The food is then cooked until it reaches the desired temperature. Food cooked sous-vide NEVER OVERCOOKS. For this reason, it's a great technique for things like chicken and pork, which need to reach a certain temperature on the inside but often suffer from overcooking on the outside. Sous-viding is not something that the home cook does at this point, though I have seen an ad for a machine that ran around $350, plus the vacuum sealer and bags. About the cost of a microwave, and worth it I would think if you cook meat a lot or are obsessed with perfection. The dish was delicious though I would have preferred the egg and tuna separately. Their flavors go along together except for a few subtle notes pretty far in that I thought clashed, and I could not get over that, but again that is my palate. $15 well spent.
  • Cassoulet with crispy duck confit with butternut squash, cannellini beans, garlic sausage and applewood smoked bacon. Confit, a preparation of duck where it is preserved in salt, cooked in its own fat, and then stored in fat, is the most tender preparation and a real delicacy well-suited to the holidays. This confit was excellent, and came with a crispy skin that I really enjoyed. The bean cassoulet was also very good. I found the combination of the two to be oversalted and would have liked to see the cassoulet have less salt to compensate for the salt in the confit. This was an extremely hearty dish that filled me up like an entree and was an absolute steal at $13.
  • I forgot to write down the name of the wine but it was a 2006 French Burgundy. I thought it was a good wine but still closed. But a good price on the wine and a good wine list in general from what little I know about wines. I know a lot more about food than I do wine.
  • Some local, seasonal ingredients were mentioned on the menu like Tuscarora Farms beets.

Urbana, 2121 P. St. NW, Washington DC 20037, 202.956.6650

I made a good dinner this weekend too- a chicken pot pie using the Lee Brothers' recipe (seriously, get the book). For local ingredients, I used a chicken from Rohrer's meats and some cayenne peppers I had grown and dried last summer (I also had a watermelon radish from the Common Market that went into a salad). The recipe asks for you to cut up the chicken and fry the pieces, but I broiled them instead. Broiling chicken is my new favorite cooking method because it is fast, gets the skin crispy, and avoids the addition of extra fats from frying (though the chicken roasts in its own fat). Basically I broil on the top rack, starting the pieces cavity-side up, for five minutes on each side, then drop the rack to 8 inches and continue to broil but at 10 minutes each side. I made gluten-free dumplings from a mix of flours like brown rice, potato starch, and garbanzo and was very excited that they tasted good. The pot pie also had the holy trinity of carrots, onions and celery in it. I will definitely make this recipe again.

I would also like to note that my elimination diet is going along well in the sense that I am still on it and have made a complete 180 degree shift in my awakeness and energy. I am having a rough time reintroducing foods because every one that I have tried to reintroduce has completely bombed. I guess that's good because it's REALLY OBVIOUS that I have sensitivities to food. So I am going to wait a few weeks before trying to introduce foods again. I also keep hitting land mines when I go out to eat, which means I really need to stop going out to eat. Maybe there's a niche for me as a lover of quality foods with a very limited diet, and I should go with it. I'll do a more complete post here soon of my experience with food and getting better, because I think it might help someone. But for now, I am:

Yours in food and in health,


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Corn Free

I love corn. When I was a kid, when the white "silver queen" sweet corn would come in, I remember having meals that were nothing but corn because we all loved it so much. There were very few weird meals like that coming from my mom's kitchen. The exceptions were apple dumplings, waffles, and corn. So that tells you how special corn is to my family and to me.

So it was with great sadness when I tried to reintroduce corn into my diet after eliminating it to test for food sensitivities, and found that I can't eat it. I mean I really can't eat it. Within a minute of eating a corn chip my stomach turned, I felt nauseous, and I didn't want any more. I said to myself, well, maybe I had a little too much to drink last night (it is the holidays) and I am just a little off. I went to put another corn chip in my mouth and it hung there in my hand in midair because my body wouldn't let me eat it. I could not make my arm put it in my mouth. I kid you not.

I have told this story a few times now and have heard varying reactions to it. My opthamologist thought it was funny and believed me. Dr. Kracher is awesome, by the way, if you need an opthamologist. He said, "I really think there is something to this, and I think you are halfway there." And he switched me to preservative-free contact lens solution because the stuff I was using was making my eyes itchy- he said probably an autoimmune reaction. And I think he was right, because my eyes don't itch now. My dad, on the other hand, said it was psychosomatic and weird, and he looked at me funny. I said, "maybe it is, but I can't eat corn anymore, and that's an autoimmune problem."

I had a similar but worse reaction when trying to eat dairy again. I made a mushroom pate and put some of my favorite cow goat cheddar in it from CapriKorn farms. I had such a bad reaction to eating it that my tongue and lips burned. I thought, "maybe that's not the dairy. Maybe that's something else." I went to pick up the package so I could eat a slice of cheese, and I felt an electric shock go through my arm to my hand, and I dropped it. Now I know that there is nothing wrong with that cheese because it is awesome. It is me.

Other foods have caused me minor issues. Scallops turned my stomach over, but I ate them. Same with tuna fish in mayo. Sugar turns my stomach if I eat more than a few bites of something sweet.

Now that I am feeling better, I have actual reactions to foods, rather than living in a murk that is better or worse from day to day. I am so profoundly better that I am like a totally different person. So my hunch was right. Some foods trigger me to have autoimmune reactions that cause the narcolepsy symptoms. I don't know if this is because I am atypical, or if there is a dietary relationship with this disease the way there is between celiac and wheat; that is my instinct, since both diseases have the same genetic marker.

Sometimes I eat something, and I don't know what it is, but it hits me like a land mine. I started out assuming that if there weren't any obviously bad ingredients in a food for me, I could eat it. Now I assume the opposite, and find that I can only really eat the food I cook myself- or go to places that are obsessed with food purity. Food is so adulterated, I have discovered, and there are so many things that it is adulterated with; it makes me think that instinctively I turned to local foods more and more because they are not processed.

Today I got up at 5:45 on my own, which never happened to me in my life before I started eating this way a little over a month ago. I was taking the dog for a walk, and I thought about how many people out there are like me and just don't know it. I also thought that if all of these people knew this about themselves and acted on it, there would be a much greater market for primary rather than processed foods, a lot more pressure on the factory farming industry, and a lot less pollutants in the environment. There would also be a lot more healthier people.

I told the Naturopathic Doctor (Steven Sinclair) about my reaction to dairy and he said it was highly unusual. I am okay with that. I feel deeply normal now, more than I ever have been. I feel unstoppable.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

They thought it was Spring.

I woke up to white snow. It was lovely to have a breakfast looking out the window and see snow covering our little backyard garden.

Some plants have been enjoying mildly cold weather. This Sutera Cordata is called Snowstorm. How cute is to see Snowstorm covered with snow. This plant is annual/tender perennial. If I had a sun room or green house, I could keep her for the next year. Search reveals that this plant can only be propagated through cuttings, not by seeds. Maybe I should try bringing her into our house to overwinter.

I am not sure about the usefulness of borage as a herb plant. You could eat young leaves in a salad (commonly described as mild cucumber flavor), but if you miss that short stage, leaves get big, tough, and prickly. I keep borage for the beautiful star like blue flowers. They have been self-sowing.

I have too much parsley. They love cool weather but I am not sure how they are going to handle this snow and following cold nights. I should harvest some leaves and dry them.

Not sure about this young fennel fellow. I think my spring sowing produced plants that produced flowers and seeds, and they started fall crop themselves.

This is a new rhubarb plant that I got from a farmer's market this spring. I have a giant guy that started a few years ago from seed, but unfortunately he doesn't produce red stalks, so I adopted this new guy. I should harvest the tender stalks before they go into winter dormancy.

I grew sun flowers and nasturtium in one of the sunniest spots. The plants completed the cycle and I cleared the area out to plant some spring bulbs for the next year. However, the seeds decided it was spring and they got things going. Unfortunately, both sunflowers and nasturtium don't transplant well so I am not even going to try to pot them up and bring them in. Too bad their lives will be short.

And, asparagus thought it was spring too. There are a few more spears that are one or two inches above the ground. I shall eat them soon.

I will follow up with a few more photos of plants that I am keeping in the house.
Have a happy snowy day.


Cakes for Cause: Brrrr...It's Starting To Feel Like Winter!

And not just because we’re at the North End of Frederick either…the weather forecast is for cold and frosty temperatures but at Cakes for Cause and Moxie Bakery & Café we feel like it’s the deep south. And our brunch plate this week reflects it…this Sunday, line up for shrimp and grits (or vegan grits with roasted veggies and tofu) at breakfast time. Pair it with a freshly-baked cinny roll or an all-butter croissant and transport yourself to the French Quarter for the day. We’ve made a little adjustment to our hours but you probably won’t notice the difference (unless you’re that lone 6:00 am coffee person…just knock, we’ll let you in!) so pull up a chair and linger with us a little bit this weekend.

Moxie Bakery & Café
629 North Market Street, Frederick
Tuesday – Thursday 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Friday – Saturday 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Closed Mondays

Shout out to DailyCandy!
Those of you who troll the internet regularly are probably familiar with this site but if you’re not, Cakes for Cause got some great press this week and we want to give a little shout of welcome to all our new friends and supporters. We like to keep it lighthearted here at Cakes for Cause so no fighting over the last box of gingerbread ok?

The North Pole Has Nothing On the North End!
And we’ve got everything you need to make the holidays special this year. Need some ideas? Give us a call or drop by to check out our holiday order list and see what we’ll have on a regular basis. Need something extra special? We’re booking fast so we need at least one week’s notice. Having a holiday party but don’t want to clean your own house? You can rent our elegant and eclectic café space or the large event space at the Bernard W. Brown Community Center. Whatever you’re looking for, why not celebrate the holidays with Moxie (we know you’ve got it)!

The Gingie Cookies Will Be Here Next Week!
Starting December 10th and continuing through the holidays, our gingerbread and sugar cookie folk fly in from the North Pole (or Gaithersburg’s L’Academie de Cuisine as it happens) all rolled and cut out and ready for you to bake. It’s a great way to keep kids and adults alike occupied through the winter holidays. Two dozen cookies that you slide into the oven and bake yourself…we’ll throw in a frosting kit and some decorating templates for ideas as well. And the best part is…we’ll never tell that you didn’t make them! Reserve now and buy early because when they’re gone, they’re gone…until next year!

The Swag Is Here Now!
You know you’ve been waiting and it’s here right now (well the shirts will be here next week), Moxie t-shirts and gift cards. Let us know your size for our pre-sale special (until we actually have our hands on the shirts) of $15 before they’re delivered. And don’t forget that if you also reserve one of our fast-dwindling supply of Cakes for Cause baseball shirts, you can have one of those for $12 when you purchase a hot Moxie shirt.

Cakes for Cause


Friday, December 4, 2009

Fresh this week from Rohrer's Meats

Greetings from the farm. I will be in Frederick tomorrow with my full product line. I will be at The Dutch Plant Farm from 10 AM until 12:30 PM. I will have beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, and cheese. After tomorrow, my next delivery day will be Christmas eve. So it is time to start thinking about those orders. Some possibilities include beef prime rib, standing rib, or filet; fresh, smoked, or country cured ham; pork loin roast or crown roast; leg and rack of lamb; or fresh turkeys. If you have any other requests, I might be able to handle those as well. Here is my winter schedule for those who did not get one. Hours will be 10 AM until 12:30 PM. Location will be the Dutch Plant Farm on Baughmans Lane in Frederick:

  • December 5, 24
  • January 2, 23
  • February 6, 20
  • March 6, 20
  • April 3, 17

Don't let a little bit of snow scare you away tomorrow. Eat fresh, be well, and I will see you at the market.


Rohrer's Meats



World's best candy canes at Zoë's

How cool is this?

The candy canes from our local Zoë's Chocolate Co. (across from my office) were designated as the "World's Best Candy Canes" by Saveur Magazine in their December 2009 issue.

"On the way home, I opened up a peppermint one and popped it into my mouth. The flavor was bright and refreshing, cool on the tongue, and more refined than the cloyingly sweet taste of the canes I'd grown up eating. The real stars, though, were the anise and cinnamon versions. The latter had all the gentle warmth of the spice but none of the aggressive heat you get in most cinnamon hard candies, and the anise cane, which had a gorgeous sheen, tasted of real licorice. I finished the whole thing."
The candy canes come in all natural cinnamon, peppermint, or anise. The canes are all made by hand.

"As its name suggests, Zoë's Chocolate Company makes primarily chocolates, and very good ones. But every year in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the owner, Zoë Tsoukatos, gets together with her parents and two brothers to make candy canes, observing a tradition begun two generations ago by Tsoukatos's great-aunt and great-uncle, immigrants from Greece. "When I was a little girl," she recalls, "I would wait all year for candy cane–making time. I loved it then, and I love it now.

Tsoukatos says that the method hasn't changed a bit. "We still use natural oils for the flavoring and knead the candy by hand." Each batch of the taffy-like candy base is pulled and stretched on a wall-mounted hook before the flavoring is added; then the colored pieces are twisted onto the white base. Zoë's mother, Elaini, oversees the job of bending each cane into the crook shape. "She has the magic touch," says Tsoukatos. "

Also, note this upcoming event: see their 7'5" Handmade Candy Cane in front of 30 N. Market Street in Frederick on First Saturday. New Mayor-Elect, Randy McClement, and new aldermen will make the first candy cane break at 6pm. Stop by and get your piece to enjoy!
Photo Michael Krauss, Saveur Magazine.


Love Leftovers.

Saturday) Dan and I bought a turkey from Maple Lawn Farm at Common Market a while ago, and it was time to cook. Dan took charge in cooking the bird. At last minute we casually invited a couple, who are vegetarians. We had some really good looking veggies from the farmer's market and some mushroom and fennel that we got from MOM's.
I like it when cooking sort of happens. When Dan put the bird away into oven, I took over the kitchen, and pulled out all the veggies that I want to cook, and arranged them in groups. Here is how it went:

  • Thinly sliced fennel, red onion, and celeriac salad. Dressed in olive oil, and lemon juice.
  • Mushroom, spinach and leek tart as a main vegetarian dish. Crimini and white oyster mushroom, baby yellow squash sauteed in olive oil and thyme. Baby spinach briefly cooked. Leek cooked in butter till melting soft. Layered in rich shortbread tart shell then filled with cream/egg.
  • Multigrain roll, improvised to add gluten free serial and sunflower seeds on top of oatmeal and flax seeds.
  • Par-boiled and then roasted beets, red and chiogga. Served with CapriKorn farm soft goat cheese.
  • Roasted brussels sprout served with grated Parmesan Reggiano.
  • Tatsoi sauteed in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger.
  • Fresh baby carrots, broccoli, fennel served with a dipping sauce
  • Mashed rutabaga
  • Apple tart
  • Pear reduction with lavender blossom
I had three things to bake and veggies to roast, and the bird was taking its time in the oven, which made me a bit nervous when it got closer for our guests to arrive. Dan made the dipping sauce, mashed rutabaga, and gravy when the turkey finally came out. He also cleaned the dining room, set the table, entertained the guests while I continued to cook and serve. I needed this - the joy of cooking all day. Every dish turned out so well I couldn't pick my favorite.

Sunday) What a beautiful day it was! I spent all day in the garden. For breakfast, we had leftover veggie tart, apple tart, and toasted multigrain roll with raspberry jam. All home-made and it took just minutes to put together.

For lunch, Dan made turkey salad sandwich. Diced turkey meat, apple, celeriac, red onion and mayo, salt, pepper.

For dinner, we had turkey soup. Three main herbs in the stock were rosemary, sage, and oregano. Simple with carrots, celeriac and pasta, but deeply satisfying flavor from the stock that simmered all day.

Monday) I made a turkey tart following Cook's Country recipe. I had to modify the recipe as I go - too much blue cheese for me so cut down to 1/3 cup. We were out of pears so used an apple (the recipe calls for 4 pears which sounded way too much). We didn't have sour cream, so used different ratio of yogurt and cream. Overall it was pretty good combination - next time, I need to keep the tart longer in the oven, and refine the ratio of ingredients.

Wednesday) Eating more leftovers! Mashed rutabaga, cauliflower puree, fennel and celeriac salad, spicy green with dressing made from pear reduction, and tatsoi. Warmed up steak and pork tenderloin are also left over from previous meals.

In short, we have been eating well and the fridge is empty. Well almost empty since we still have lots of turkey meat left. I wonder what Dan is fixing for breakfast today - I'd better go check.



Monday, November 30, 2009

Salmon canapes

Here are the leftovers from the bridal shower that ended up back at my house. Half of a pear cobbler and a few flattened salmon canapes. Needless to say I threw a party and we ate them, and then went ska dancing.

My Aunt Irene and her daughters threw my sister a lovely bridal shower, and I was really touched. It was also a huge help, since my mom had to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner and an engagement party just before.

As is my custom now that I have to eat differently than before, I made both dishes without a recipe. The pear cobbler was just a gluten free biscuit mix with seckel pears from Scenic View Orchards and agave syrup. I can't tell you how it tasted to others but it seemed dry, yet tasty. The salmon canapes, however, were the bomb. Ironically, I did not taste them since they had dairy and wheat in them. But I knew they would be awesome when I concocted the idea.

When I got to the shower hall, I got my food out to cook it. My Aunt Irene told me we could not use the ovens. So cousin Patty and I went to her house and she totally saved my butt by cooking the mushroom rolls and chicken skewers I had brought. While she did this, I assembled the salmon canapes. My cousin's husband and Uncle Buddy also enjoyed eating them while we cooked them in the kitchen. Patty's husband said, "there's like three different flavors in there that all come together in my mouth." And my sister told me later that someone had told her that it made tartar sauce in their mouth. I actually spent some time thinking about putting this dish together- when I first imagined it, the cream mixture was going to be on a potato slice that had been baked in oil to reduce moisture, with salmon and a chive on top. Several people asked me for the recipe to this:

Salmon Canapes

  • 1 large loaf of dark brown, sweet bread. I used the bread I got at the last day of the market from So Very Special. It looked like it had dates and molasses in it. I did not try it because of the gluten!
  • 1 c of sour cream mixed in the food processor with 1 c of cream cheese and enough milk to get the mix to piping consistency- the consistency of mortar, when it is soft enough to squirt through a bag but strong enough to hold its shape when it comes out.
  • 1.5 pounds of sockeye salmon, thawed and baked at 425 degrees F in a marinade of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt. I normally cook salmon until it is still gelatinous in the middle but I cooked it more to not freak out the family.
  • Vlasic dill slicer pickles, cut into pieces about 1 centimeter long and 1 inch wide.
Slice the bread into sandwich-thickness slices and cut the slices into quarters. Lay them on a serving tray. Pipe about 1/2 tsp cream mix onto each slice. lay the pickle on one side of the cream and a chunk of the salmon on the other. That's it. Take it to a party, I promise it will be a hit.

I found out today that Melissa and Alexandra of So Very Special lost Stephen today. Stephen was Alexandra's husband and Melissa's dad. He passed away after a long illness. My condolences to them in this difficult time.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

More to be thankful for

This year's Thanksgiving was extra special because it was also the weekend we celebrated my sister Bridget's engagement to Kico. We had lots of friends and family come to visit. Especially members of Kico's family. This was great for me because I grew up with a big extended family (originally a big farm family) and family for me is something you can always enjoy more of. Meeting the little girl cousins was especially fun.

This little girl particularly loved the mashed potatoes. My mom made them with potatoes I got at Scenic View Orchards. I bought half a bushel for $14 at the last market, which seemed like a steal to me. The potatoes were literally white as snow.

I made a couple of dishes, including a coconut curry rice dish that had nothing local in it. But I also made a butternut squash and sweet potato casserole with a caramel sauce that used my friend Chad's sweet potatoes and a butternut squash from I think Jubilee. The colors of this dish were very fall and I loved the black flecks on the casserole dish. I made up both dishes as I went along. For example I poured the liquid off the bottom of the casserole and reduced it to a caramel sauce, mixing in apple juice for flavor. Then I poured it on top of the dish and broiled it.

I got a lot more compliments for the rice than I did for the casserole, though I thought the casserole was better. Something I am noticing too is that as I have begun to eat a lot more healthily, my tastes have changed a lot. A lot of times sweet potato dishes are extremely sweet, and I am not a fan. I like to temper the sweetness with the vegetal notes of the tubers. But that may not have been what people were expecting.

I ate something that triggered a food allergy. I had a suspicion there might be gluten in the chicken broth mom used for the gravy and I looked it up on the internet. And it did. I not only got tired, I staggered. This had nothing to do with alcohol, because I decided not to have any; It also was not the turkey. The reaction was actually something I was happy about- I think I have really begun to get to the bottom of what has plagued my my whole life- an autoimmune reaction to wheat, dairy, and maybe a few other things. Now that I have eliminated these foods from my diet, I can tell within minutes of eating them. That means to me that if I don't eat them, I won't be a zombie anymore. The other benefit of being food sensitive is that it causes me to either cook for myself or go to places that cater to people with allergies, which are always places that use fresh, whole foods. So I get to be awake and eat healthier.

People felt sorry for me going into the holidays because I picked this time do do my elimination diet. But I had plenty to eat and was glad that I felt so much better in general than I ever have. I also still got to talk to everyone and enjoy them, and that's most of the holiday for me.

I was talking to a friend the other day about my new way of eating, and I remarked how interesting it was that the answer to my problems in the long run was not to add something like a medicine to my life, but to remove something from my diet. My friend told me that is counterintuitive to our commercial culture, where we have to buy something for all of our problems.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. May you be blessed with just enough: an abundance of family and friends, and an elimination of the things that are not benefiting your life.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from Farmer Rick

I wanted to wish all our customers a Happy Thanksgiving Day and say thank you for your support during the year.

Being involved in farming and the production of food makes Thanksgiving even more special for me. Our predecessors knew how precious the harvest was to sustain them through the long winter. They were fearful of starvation each winter and thankful to have a good harvest to sustain them through. Today we are far removed from having to store all our food in the fall to make it to spring. We often take food for granted. Growing quality food for a living puts different perspective on the family meal. I know how tenuous our food supply can actually be at times and how the quality of our food has changed over the years.

I hope you have enjoyed the fresh produce we have produced this year for your enjoyment and nourishment. We are already ordering seeds and planning for next year. Hope to see you then.

Thanks So Much
Farmer Rick


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cakes for Cause: You Don't Want to Miss This!

It's the week of Thanksgiving and Cakes for Cause knows that you have a house full of hungry family members and who wants to cook all day anyhow? We do! Let us make your day after Thanksgiving special with a yummy breakfast before you hit beautiful downtown Frederick. Does Grandpa like biscuits? We've got them hot from the oven with jam and butter. Does Cousin Eddie love all things French? How about one of our delicate all-butter croissants? And coffee, we've got lots and lots of strong hot coffee to keep you going for the whole morning. We'll be open for breakfast, lunch and sweet treats all weekend so stop by and visit us. Don't forget our "creative" brunch on Sundays...we bring together a whole plate of goodness for you to enjoy along with all our regular breakfast items. If you're a vegan, don't worry, we make you your own version too.

When Are We Open…When Are We Closed?
At Cakes for Cause, we value our staff and their family time so we offer them several holidays each year. That way, they stay rested and enthusiastic (because we all work like crazy the rest of the time). Our holiday schedule is the following:

Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday) CLOSED
Thanksgiving Day (Thursday) CLOSED
(except for pre-ordered pick-ups and pastry emergencies 8-12)
We wish you and your families the happiest of Thanksgivings!
Christmas Eve (Thursday) CLOSED
Christmas Day (Friday) CLOSED
New Years Day (Friday) CLOSED

Gingerbread Cookies Anyone?
Those of you who know Cakes for Cause have been asking about the gingerbread cookies and yes, they are coming back in 2009 to make your holidays easier. For those of you who don’t know, we make your holiday baking a snap with our frozen gingerbread and sugar cookies. All you have to do is pop them into the oven, bake them, and then decorate them with our handy frosting kit. This year it’s all part of the same package…2 dozen gingerbread or sugar cookies, a frosting kit, lots of templates with ideas for decorating and plenty of fun for the whole family. Plus, there’s no mess from the eggs, flour, and butter! You’ll be able to pay online and pick up after December 10th. More info to come.

The Swag Is Coming…The Swag Is Coming!
Yes, you have asked and we are responding…with Moxie t-shirts and gift cards. These are the must-have seasonal gifts in Frederick. Get your own little piece of the funky North End and pre-order our hot t-shirts or our even hotter gift cards. Call 301-620-0003 to reserve yours today. And, to make gift giving even easier, we’re offering a special pre-order price of $15 and if you want to add on one of our Cakes for Cause baseball tees, we’ll throw it in for only $12 (while supplies last). It’s a great big holiday extravaganza here at Cakes for Cause! Here’s a peek at the Moxie design (black/grey or pink/brown)…you know you want one!

Cakes for Cause


Fresh this week from Rohrer's Meats

Just a quick reminder that I will be at the Dutch Plant Farm Wednesday, from 10 AM until noon. I will have some extra product with me, including bacon and sausage. If you have any questions you can call my helper Becky at 301-514-7477.

Rohrer's Meats


Let them roast

One November night I decide to roast vegetables to bring out their natural flavor and show-case beautiful colors. The vegetables were:

  • Cheddar cauliflower from Gwen (Glade-link farm)
  • Chiogga beets from Jim (Tomatoes etc)
  • Red Thumb potatoes from Will (Whitmore farm)
  • Yellow fingerling potatoes from Rick (Summer creeek farm)
  • White onion from Chris (Jubilee farm)
  • Yellow carrots and dark beets from my backyard garden
Potatoes and beets were par-boiled before roasting. I made a dressing with olive oil, sherry wine, mustard and some thyme and tarragon. It is visually stimulating and very satisfying to work with fresh and colorful vegetables. Needless to day, they were very yummy.

Talking about yummy roasting, check out Dianne's post on Thanksgiving. Everything looks so delicious!

Dan and I will be traveling for Thanksgiving and we are looking forward to a delicious meal and joyful conversation with our very special friends. Hope everyone travels safe, if you are traveling, and have a happy Thanksgiving.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Last Day at the Market II

Here are some more pictures of the last day at the market. Pictured are Jeff and Amanda (Cakes for Cause), Richard (Scenic View Orchards), Ida, and Michelle (Tourism Council) and Zack Kershner with kids in tow.

I am going to miss the market until it starts again in the Spring!!!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mt. Zion CSA

The Mount Zion CSA is taking new members for 2009. The farmer for this CSA is my friend Chad Stull. The customers of his CSA from last year that I talked to raved about how good his boxes were, and how much produce he gave them. Chad is farming organic but is not certified. Pickup is at his home on Stone Road off of Mt. Zion Road. To reach Chad about the CSA, you can email him at or call at 301.473.7068. He is doubling capacity this year based on the success of last year. Now that's what I like to hear.

For those who are not familiar, CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture". The way it works is that you pay the farmer up front for fresh produce. The farmer is able to use the money that you pay to purchase neccesary supplies and equipment early in the year, and guarantee a certain level of income for the year. In turn you get to pick up your bounty, usually every week during a length of time during the growing season.


Last day at the Market

Saturday was the last day of the season for the West Frederick Farmer's Market. We had a beautiful day and a good turnout- thanks to everyone who made it! I love this picture of my friend Jen with her various parcels, including at least two market bags and a baby.

Many of you know that the market will have to find a new location next year. Some of you may have read about the circumstances in the Frederick News-Post. Nobody need worry- the market will definitely be back next season. Yeon and I are planning lots of cool events for the next market, including several chef's challenges that I think you will really enjoy.

The next picture is Jim from Tomatoes, Etc. showing off some fine radishes and broccoli. More pictures from the last day of the market are coming.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flowers this Fall

These photos are for Charles. I told him that I will post photos on Saturday and didn't get to it till today. My camera had lost the date setting so I don't know exactly which Saturdays I took these photos. Some time in late September to early October.

At the end of the day, I feel so drained and weak. This terrible clenching headache doesn't help either. Even with all the worries in me and gloomy news all around, I am going to stay positive and grateful.

It is going to be all right.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

EBlast from Catoctin Mountain Orchard

The Black Family would like to take this opportunity to say "thanks" - we appreciate your support throughout the year by purchasing our own grown and produced products.

Through this support you keep our dream alive and well by supporting the concept of buy fresh, buy local.

This means, you get great taste and freshness, you help to improve the local economy, by keeping your dollars circulating in the community, safe guarding your families health and protecting the environment.

Even though to many, it would seem that the season is about to come to an end and we're getting ready to settle into the quite of the winter months - on the contrary.


We still have lots of your fresh favorites for the coming holidays, as well as apple gift boxes, fresh pies, apple dumplings, all type of desserts, fresh cider, and the list goes on and on. Call ahead for quick and easy pickup.

Many of our items are available through our on online store that can be delivered straight to your door, all year!

Stop by! See you soon! Thanks and Happy Holidays from the Black Family.

[Click on the image to see it bigger]


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fresh this Week from Rohrer's Meats

Here we are, down to the last two weeks of the market. Thanksgiving is fast approaching. But there is still time to order your fresh Maple Lawn Farms turkey from me. Turkeys are $2.25 per pound, breasts $3.75, and dark meat portions $1.25. Country cured hams $3.00, boneless smoked hams are $4.00. I also offer fresh hams as well. Delivery can be Nov. 21 at the final day of market, or Wednesday Nov. 26 at the Dutch Plant Farm from 10 AM until noon. My sisters will also be taking orders for pies, cakes, cheesecakes, teabreads and cookies. Thanksgiving orders for Saturday pickup need to be in by Wednesday night. For Wednesday pickup I need them by Sunday night.

This week at the market I will have my complete line of fresh beef, pork, lamb, and eggs. I will also have whole chickens, cutup chickens, boneless skinless breasts, wings, and leg/thigh portions.

Several weeks ago the Washington Post did an article about rose veal. The pictures of animals they were talking about were Jersey bull calves. There is not much meat on their bones. I have been doing something similar for several years. I use my Angus beef calves. They are allowed to run with and nurse their mother, eat grass and hay, and have access to grain as well. I also allow them to get a little bigger. This results in a fat calf with mild flavor and they always get rave reviews. If you still do not like to think about eating a calf, since these are bigger, one can call it petite beef.

I am having a calf processed this week. It always goes fast, so you should preorder. Cuts will be scallopini, cutlets, loin chops, rib chops, sirloin chops, shanks, boneless shoulder roasts, arm roasts, stew cubes, and ground. It always sells fast, so please order ahead so I know how to pack. Please get your orders in by Thursday night.

Hopefully the rain will be gone by Saturday. Have a good week and I will see you at the market.

Rohrer's Meats