For the last three seasons I have been growing herbs, but this year I added a couple of tomato plants. We bought them at the Havre de Grace plant sale earlier this season with the intent of planting them in a raised garden bed. They are still in their plastic store pots, and they have been doing wonderfully well. They are bearing fruit, and today I harvested my first ripe tomato. It's a roma tomato, with a thick, chewy skin and a fruit that is both tangy and tart with just a little sweetness at the end. Fresh tomatoes taste like summer to me, and they always remind me of my very early childhood. My first memories are sitting in my mother's tomato patch in the first house I lived in, picking the fruit and then cleaning it in our old kitchen and eating it on the spot. I'm quite glad to have the beginnings of my own tomato patch, even if I don't have a daughter to share it with. My first harvest was delicious and a welcome reminder of where I come from. I've got two more on the vine and the promise of more to come.
We haven't been working on that raised garden bed. We got distracted by a pig. D'Artagnan put their little pigs on sale last month just in time for a graduation party we were invited to. We have been interested in ordering one of their pigs since we started shopping with them some five years ago, and the graduation of our buddy's son and last remaining child at home seemed like the opportunity we had been waiting for.Read More
I didn't tell you about the adventure we had last weekend. We completed the cuts for our bridle joins for the raised bed we are working on. Then, we went out and bought blueberry bushes. We planted them in the lower meadow near our beehives. Or we started to. As we were digging the first hole, the hydraulics for the back hoe on our little tractor burst. And here is where the adventure starts.Read More
Bees are fairly self-sufficient once they have their hive firmly established and they start brooding. Until then, they need some checking up on. This weekend, about three weeks after starting our hives, we did a proper hive inspection. Because we are using top bar hives, this is fairly easy - we just removed the top of each hive, pulled a couple of the top bars, and took a look at the comb structure. We also used a smoker to help clear the bees aside so that we could get a proper look at the interior space, but no other specialized gear beyond our veils.Read More
This year we are taking our gardening to the next level. We are timber framing. the two actually go together nicely. Through timber framing you can expand your garden, and gardening provides a great opportunity for timber framing. There is a natural synergy between the plants and the wood. The garden has an energy. It is a living, growing organism kind of like our bees, and we are the caretakers. Natural infrastructure supports this living energy.Read More
You read about the decline of the honey bee. You see the posts on Facebook and Twitter of the foods we will lose without pollinators. You learn that bees are ending up on endangered species lists. You stop using certain fertilizers in your garden to help protect them and still they are dying. If you look around your property and see a lot of open space, maybe you do something else.Read More
A couple of years ago, I started a garden. I did it very quietly, very privately. Although my intent was to share it through this blog, those first couple of years were actually a very private journey for me. I started the garden to give me something to take care of, to help me reconnect with the outside world, to claim a space in my domestic life, to have someplace of my own. Gardening is good for that.Read More
Gareth has brought up the Acorn website to listen to BBC TV while he paints. He started painting again about a month ago, which means I have started taking photos again.
We are talking about composition, about seeing the shot in my mind and then creating it, about moving from opportunistic photography into something deliberate, intentional. Taking my time to see the shot, to let it come to me rather than me rushing to it.
We are looking at the masters. He has me listening to the Modern Art Notes podcast and the interview with Edward Burtynsky. I am on InstrGram following the New York Times Food Section, Food52, and a host of food bloggers, looking at how they are composing their shots, lighting their shots, plating their food. I am taking pictures of my meals with my phone.
I am wandering the neighborhood with my camera, shooting landscapes right now but I am getting ready for the garden, getting ready for spring. I am getting ready to write again.
Here is what I've been eating at home and not writing about. More to come soon.....
I found Ichiban by accident. I was running errands over lunch and got all turned around in Columbia Crossing. Getting lost in Columbia is a not uncommon occurrence for those who don't live there. The brain child of Edward Notron's grandfather (yes, that Edward Norton), Columbia is Maryland's planned community, and popular opinion is that it was most certainly planned as only a committee could have created it. A sprawling mass of shopping centers, corporate parks, and cul de sacs cross-cut by numerous state highways and thoroughfares, it all looks blandly the same and would work much better if it were based on a nice straightforward grid.
I've been working down there since November when my company transferred my department out of our nice digs in Harbor East, and yesterday I was driving without GPS. After circling Dobbin Road, Old Dobbin Road, Columbia Crossing, and Columbia Crosing II for some 30 minutes looking for the road back to the office, I spotted Ichiban and decided it was time to at least pick up some lunch.
Ichiban offers a fairly generic selection of Chinese and Japanese take out. I got a bento box of chicken tempura, shomai, and a California roll. It came with a side of rice and miso soup. The lady behind the counter promised a 10-minute wait and that was accurate. I was in and out in good time.
My bento box was well-packaged but that's where the goodness ends. The chicken tempura was greasy, and the meat was dry and flavorless. The California roll was also lacking in flavor, plus it came without chopsticks so I had no real way to mix the small dab of wasabi into my soy sauce. And, really, am I supposed to eat sushi with a knife and fork? The shomai was good but luke warm and a little dry on one side as if it had finished cooking first and had to wait for everything else to catch up. The miso was a fairly sad affair that I didn't even bother with. The best part was the rice - nice sticky flavorful sushi rice.
I also on impulse got a strawberry bubble tea. The menu offers additional bubble and flavor at additional cost, which is a good racket for them. My tea had a good ammount of large tapioca bubbles but was thin and watery.
Overall Ichiban only gets points for speed as the food itself fell flat for me. Which is just as well as I doubt I will ever be able to find them again. At $15 total for a mediocre lunch, I doubt I will go looking, either.
Located somewhere in Columbia Crossing (I thought I saw a Rack Room Shoes nearby?), Ichiban is open for lunch and dinner, dine-in or take-out.
A fixture in downtown Havre de Grace for the last 20 or so years, The Ritz is primarily known for providing a decent lunch to proper ladies who are not in much of a hurry. Now that Color Images is located on the same block, I had the opportunity to try out The Ritz for the first time, getting a take out order to eat while my color processed.Read More
The sign outside is just a large yellow banner that says Korean Restaurant in bold black letters. The first thing you hear when you walk in is an aggressively irritated Korean woman announcing how long you will have to wait for your food. It's noon and she is out of kimbap and nothing more will get done until there is more. On the right of the entrance is a hostess station that looks long out of use. You need to walk the length of the restaurant past a dozen or so unadorned tables to the counter in the back. There is a polite young woman behind the counter taking orders and payments as the older woman barks prices at her. The older woman is made up like a bad Hollywood stereotype - powdered white face, bright red lips, heavy black eyes. She looks at me and says like it's a challenge, "30-minute wait. You wait 30 minutes?"Read More
Today the sun is out in full force. The air is warm. The snow that fell last weekend is melting at a rapid pace. Stepping outside you can believe that spring is near.Read More
Over the last few years, Harbor East has gone through a remarkable redevelopment. And even though I can still remember when it was just vancant lots littered with broken bottles and used syringes, it has now become a neighborhood known for its ever increasing dining options. When The Hyatt Place moved in last year, it brought with it several fairly decent chain restaurants, including Jimmy Johns, Cava, Nado's Peri Peri, and most recently Sweet Green, an upscale salad joint that specializes in locally sourced vegetables.Read More
The holidays are over and life is settling back into its normal everyday rhythm. I'm taking down the tree this weekend and organizing my holiday gear a little more effectively, a trend that I intend to carry over to the rest of the house. 2015 was another quiet year for this blog, mostly because I was busy, Gareth was busy, there wasn't much interesting going on in the kitchen - just good workaday meals that come together easy at the end of the day.Read More
So I haven't been blogging much while in Amsterdam because there really hasn't been much to blog about food-wise. I encountered a nice French bakery up near Centraal Station in the heart of the city and got a decent crepe from a local chain restaurant. But I personally haven't had much opportunity to get out there and try the local cuisine.Read More
This is truly the best time of the year in my little corner of the world. If you live out in farm country like I do, everything is in season right now, so everything is fresh and readily available at the local farm stand. This includes ginormous boxes of stewing tomatoes for next to nothing. We scored a beer-case of them from Hopkins Produce for about $10. So this long Labor Day weekend was stewing tomatoes weekend.Read More
I grew up with chicken booyah. While my family didn't make it, just about everyone else's did. Of unconfirmed Belgian origin, you'll find it in the peninsula of Wisconsin that juts into Lake Michigan and the surrounding area where a concentration of Belgians settled. The easiest way to explain booyah is like this: quarter a couple of stewing chickens and simmer them in a large pot until the meat falls off the bones and the bones break open releasing the marrow and you have at least a gallon of stock.Read More
So when you neglect your hobby for an extended period of time, you may find when you return to it that things are not quite as you left them. Which is how today's blog post started when none of the cameras I own had a charged battery. I had to go with my little Nikon CoolPix because I could quickly replace its disposable batteries and get things up and running. Which means all of the innovation is in the baking and not in the photography.Read More
Once upon a time, there was delicious Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken in Baltimore - chicken so delicious it drew the masses from all walks of life. Racial tensions and other petty rivalries eased as the city's denizens crowded into the tiny entryway of La Rotisseria for magically seasoned and always cooked to perfection chicken with beans, rice, and the best green sauce ever made. And, every once in a while, a small selection of hand-made papusas that always sold out almost immediately. That little storefront carry-out place was my first taste of papusas, and of Peruvian style chicken. And to date it has been the best.Read More
A while back, the In-n-Out/Five Guys clone Grab-n-Go was sued by In-n-Out for being, well, an almost exact clone, right down to the decor and menu. It was so much like In-n-Out that I was constantly forgetting that it actually wasn't and just referred to it as Fake In-n-Out. Well, they closed to little fanfare, and in their place is Georgia's Carry Out. And even though Georgia's still has the copycat decor (red and white tiled walls) and burgers (the Wild burger and the Asian burger are still on the menu, although their descriptions have been slightly altered), they seem to be doing OK.Read More