Author: Elvia Thompson

Fall Planting for Second Harvest Edibles

Seasoned gardeners break into a smile
when they talk about planting edibles in the fall

By Rita Calvert

For your second harvest: Start late summer and fall months and you can double your yield this year and enjoy homegrown flavor into fall and winter.

When I tracked down Homestead Gardens’ expert Gene Sumi to ask him about THE SECOND VEGGIE PLANTING, he broke out in a huge smile and said, “This is the best time to plant!”

Why? The sun and soil have worked diligently through the summer to prepare for you. The soil is warm enough to burst those seeds to germination. Seeds can be sown into the warm soil or you can simply plop in bedding plants. If you had a spring/summer edible garden, you most probably have already done the major soil amendments and of course, plotted out the garden. Now it’s just the gravy! You can see from Gene’s long list of veggies, below, this can be enough food to see you through most of the winter (given a bit of preserving the harvest).

lettuceTime to Start some Cool-Season Vegetable Seeds for Fall Planting

Fall is the best time to grow cool cool-season vegetables – even better than spring because in spring, the seeds need to be started indoors under artificial lights. In August the temperatures are warm enough to start the seeds outdoors, many sown directly in the soil. Follow the instructions on the packages. Gene encouraged us to at least grow some lettuce (everybody loves lettuce) but you really will appreciate all of those other greens such as kale, Swiss Chard and the Asian Greens! You can easily grow them in containers.

  • Arugula
  • Asian Greens
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Bunching Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mache
  • Mesclun
  • Mustard
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

by Elvia Thompson

severn river association(October 19, 2020) – The Severn River Association has been monitoring water quality in the creeks and main stem of our capital river for several years. This year it’s been doing this since early spring – even with the pandemic. Yesterday I joined in so see how it’s done. SRA executive director Tom Guay directed the operation as captain although the two young women who made up the crew needed no guidance as they had the routine well in hand.

Amelia Johnson

Our masked crew consisted of Emi McGeady (left), who, as SRA Field Investigator, is working at SRA as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps participant after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also joining us was Summer Intern Amelia Johnson (right), a senior at St. Mary’s High School who plans to major in Environmental Studies when she starts college next year.

The job yesterday was to take readings in some of the Severn’s creeks north of Annapolis to include Mill, Burley, Rideout and Whitehall.

Apart from enjoying the spectacular day and unique views of some of the area’s most beautiful homes and boats, I joined in the work.

secchi disk
Secchi disk

We took several readings in various locations in each creek. My job was to hold the sensor at various depths in the water column at each monitoring location. Amelia read data aloud from the sensor and Emi recorded salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and acidity (pH). Tom put the Secchi disk in the water to measure clarity which Emi also recorded. We did this 33 times.

At the end of the season the data will be added to the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative’s citizen science dataset via the Chesapeake Data Explorer program. The Cooperative shares water quality data for the entire Bay watershed and tracks tidal and non-tidal data with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program (the federal, multi-state, multi-jurisdictional organization led by the EPA). This river and creek data is an important piece of the puzzle of what makes up the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists take all the data obtained by volunteers and scientists throughout the year to determine if restoration efforts are working and what needs to be adjusted.

For its part, SRA uses collected data all year to provide weekly updates on status of the River, tracking dead zones all summer, pernicious algae blooms, sediment plumes, other activities on the river. That makes the monitoring program important for connecting residents to the River too.

SRA used the data collected to produce and release the Annual State of the Severn on April 23 and a River report card with grades for dissolved oxygen, clarity, swimming safety and abundance of underwater grasses properly known as subaquatic vegetation (SAV). When people living in the River’s watershed understand what is happening in the River they will be more likely to work to improve conditions and protect the River.

severn river monitoring map
SRA’s monitoring stations.

The organization visits its 44 monitoring stations in the 17 creeks and mainstem that make up the Severn River. Measuring the creeks is key to understanding the true makeup of the 14-mile-long river whose many miles of shoreline range from the natural flora and fauna that would have been familiar to the indigenous people and Captain John Smith to beautiful estates with piers and boathouses to the urban landscape of busy Annapolis. I had forgotten just how much shoreline the Severn and its tributaries contain.

SRA relies on a team of 25 volunteers and three boat captains to do the monitoring week every week, all season, from May through the end of fall, four days a week. It’s a major effort and it’s possible thanks to a grant from Delaplaine Foundation.

As is the case with most of the rivers in the mid and northern part of the Bay, the Severn is an impaired river, an EPA designation based primarily measurements of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment. This summer the SRA found dead zones in several parts of the River – areas where there is so little dissolved oxygen that fish and crabs go elsewhere. If the level is low enough and they can’t get away they suffocate and die.

Chesapeake underwater grasses
Chesapeake underwater grasses

Dead zones caused by algae blooms because when the algae die and bacteria get to work decomposing it, they use up the oxygen in the water. This is most common in hot weather. This year there were times when dead zones were up to five meters tall from the bottom. Fish move closer to the surface where there is more oxygen if they can. Algae blooms also make it hard for underwater grasses to grow because it blocks sunlight from reaching the bottom. These grasses are important for development of young marine life.

This summer dead zone conditions were found from June through Labor Day from the Route 50 bridge through Round Bay and up to headwaters. Dead zones were also found at one time or another in most of the River’s creeks, especially Weems, Luce, Saltworks, Clements, Chase, and Brewer.

And it’s all our fault.

Stormwater runoff, carrying sediment, fertilizers, pesticides and other toxic materials makes it difficult, if not impossible for underwater grasses, fish, and shellfish like crabs and oysters to thrive or to even survive. And with the effects of human-induced Climate Change upon us, our waters will get hotter and more acidic, likely altering the type of critters that live in the waters and along the shore. That’s why monitoring is so important – so scientists can better understand what’s happening and advise policy makers on next steps. Emi and Amelia are learning firsthand how human activity alters Nature.

SRA was founded in 1911 and is the oldest river organization in the country. Its website, severnriver.org, contains a lot of info about the river and the organization’s many programs and volunteer opportunities. Its staff and volunteers monitor the entire river and its creeks from its stations ranging from Lake Ogleton to Indian Landing. It works closely with the Spa Creek Conservancy too.

One of the things that made the day especially enjoyable for me was Tom’s narrative of the history of the area (he’s a history buff, author of a historical novel, and former heritage guide in Annapolis) and of its natural history. He is a treasure trove of stories and scientific data.

At the end of our monitoring work we explored Meredith Creek, which begins under Route 50. Tom set some waypoints that may be the sites of new monitoring stations next year.

Yesterday we didn’t monitor oysters or SAV but SRA reports that oysters in the Severn are doing well. No dead zones were found south of the Route 50 bridge this summer.

On the chilly quick return trip to the slip in Back Creek, the wide expanse of the Bay – bookended by the Bay Bridge on one end and Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse on the other – filled my heart and reminded me how lucky we are to live here and how important it is to protect this unique estuary.

view of the severn

The SRA crew will continue its work until it gets too cold to attract volunteers to help – probably in December. For now the SRA boat will get under weigh from Port Annapolis in Back Creek four days a week to gather data – up close and personal with the Severn. Reliable volunteers are welcome. Read more about the program.

It’s messing about in boats for a good purpose. There’s nothing better than that!

Fig Frangipane

Local & Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert

Fig Talk on the World’s Most Ancient Fruit

Figs

Figs are my passion – the fruit and the tree. Figs just have a certain cachet! Maybe it’s the ancient history, or the Mediterranean origin which makes them so alluring, or possibly the exotic ingredients which complement them in pairings. Different varieties of figs can be paired with varietal wines. This is some brief chit-chat on a topic aficionados love to go on about. If you want to talk figs, contact me on Facebook or through Annapolis Green.

I am happy to say I’ve had some great fig education this year during an especially robust harvest. Recently  I met the farmer who, by arrangement, picked up 35 pounds of figs from me for her CSA members. What a huge learningexperience this year! Refrigeration was a key roadblock as there is just never enough space and these East Coast delicate figs must be refrigerated. Rain taught me the other lesson – big time! At near ripeness it will crack due to the rain as the inside fruit grows too fast for the skin to manage. So for trying to fill this large order for me I had to pick, pick, pick when I knew a rain storm was coming.

Fig plant

Then there is packaging. How do I get 35 pounds to a farmer and how will she store and distribute to her many CSA customers. Also, there was juggling on how to keep supplying my accounts such as restaurants and individuals.

Now the major bearing trees are winding down and I have some later figs coming from a black mission and another tree of unknown variety.

I’m sharing a recipe I developed as a special birthday fig tart/cake. It complements the exotic caché of this ‘fruit of the internal flower.’ I am told by Facebook the photograph of my Fig Frangipane Tart is the most popular from all of my posts. I’ll give other fig ideas after the very special tart recipe.

Fig Frangipane Tart

I used a rectangle tart pan just because it is different enough to be an extra attention- getter! I have also made this more freeform as in a rectangular gallette.

This frangipane recipe makes enough almond cream for 1 large tart or several small tartlets.

figs in basketsIngredients
Tart
1 dozen large fresh figs (about 1 full pound) more if figs are small, cut in half
Sea salt
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed but still cold

Frangipane
1/2 cup ground almond meal (can use almond flour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash almond extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Using a food processor, combine all the ingredients until a smooth, creamy paste is formed.

Directions
First make the Frangipane.
Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll the puff pastry and place it on the parchment paper. Refrigerate to keep cold.

Spread Frangipane on puff pastry sheet, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Bake 10 minutes on rack positioned lower in oven to get bottom crust completely baked.

Tart
Place fig halves, cut side up, on top of frangipane & sprinkle very lightly with salt, return to oven & for the final 30 minutes bake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven. Puff pastry edges should be crispy and golden brown.

Cool for a 10 minutes, then brush with melted black currant jelly to glaze. Let cool to solidify.

Fig Frangipane

Other Fig Ideas

Splendidly Simple – Use abundantly on charcuterie trays

With Mascarpone
Cut large figs in half lengthwise
Spread generously with mascarpone

With Carambola
Cut large figs in half lengthwise
Spread each half with a large soft dollop Saint Andre or Carambola cheese
Drizzle with balsamic glaze (not vinegar)

With Prosciutto
Wrap whole medium size figs with a band of prosciutto
Bake in 375ºF oven for 5-7 minutes

Fig Toast
Brioche bread, mascarpone, crumbled crisp bacon, figs-bake briefly – 400ºF

Figs in Salads
Figs pair beautifully with cheese, nuts, arugula, lettuces, homemade croutons so use your imagination

Sauces
Sautéed halved figs with a dash of red wine and caramelized onion complement chicken, lamb and pork beautifully.

GEM vehicle with passengers in Annapolis

founding one hundredFounding One Hundred Spotlight: The History of Mid Atlantic GEM

By Russell Rankin

In October of 2007 I dropped in on Annapolis with my business, eCruisers, and worked the Annapolis Boat Show that year. I started out just giving free rides about town to huge success. Then I had a real estate agent approach us to put his advertising on one of the vehicles and the rest is history. I was asked by the Eastport Business Association President to present our business to the EBA at the Eastport Yacht Club. At that meeting I met Elvia Thompson who invited me to a Green Drinks, where I met her business partner, Lynne Forsman. And the rest is history again.

Following that 2007 Boat Show, I dropped in on the Navy Football Game the following weekend and was giving free rides up to the stadium from the surrounding area. The problem was I didn’t have permission to be on Navy Property, so eventually I was asked to leave, but not before I got the USNA Contact for the stadium operations. We met several days later signed a deal for game day shuttle operations for the balance of that football season. That led to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the spring of 2008. That led to the USNA Graduation Ceremony. We maintained that relationship until 2014 when it was handed off to buyers of eCruisers. I believe that still continues to this day, except for the pandemic changing everything.

In the fall of 2008 to 2013 and after partnering with Annapolis Green, we sold out all available advertising space for the Annapolis Boat Show, every year, and started our traditional yearly shuttle for the Weems & Plath Tent Sale that continues today through another provider (Charm Cars) that we handed it off to.

From there we worked the Nationals Baseball Games when the new Nats Ballpark first opened up (spring of 2008) and the area surrounding the Ballpark was not developed. We took care of patrons from the Barracks Row area in southeast DC who pre-gamed at those establishments a little over a mile away. That grew into a daily lunch shuttle from that Navy Yard area, and our clientele was none other than the bureaucrats who worked in the US Department of Transportation, and who were enacting the Low Speed Vehicle Laws at the same time. That whole endeavor landed us on the front page of the Washington Post in June of 2009, with a feature article on our operations. History again!

GEM vehicle with passengers in AnnapolisA business reset in the summer of 2009 saw 10 new GEM e6 100% Electric Low Speed Vehicles delivered to Annapolis – the largest one-time purchase of GEM e6 vehicles in the history of the manufacturer (Chrysler at the time). We even ordered a blue one specifically to serve the needs of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel Conference & Visitors Bureau (now Visit Annapolis). This was also the largest single fleet of that vehicle, or any street-legal Electric Vehicle in the State of Maryland, the United States, and for that matter, the world. Nobody had seen the likes of this before, anywhere in the Country!

We began a daily free ride service in Downtown Annapolis which was a huge success, but its longevity was tied to a City Contract that never materialized. Instead the City went with the still failing Circulator System, which we would have, and still could, run circles around today, for a fraction of the cost (can anyone say “Political Football?”).

As a result we shifted our Business Plan toward local and national events, not daily service. We worked major events in 13 different states plus the District of Columbia. We worked two Presidential Inaugurations, US Open Golf, AARP national conventions, National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Lacrosse, National College Athletic Association, weddings, youth tournaments and other high profile events in the cities of Orlando, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, Phoenix… and more. We grew to an active fleet of 16 vehicles, the largest said fleet of GEM e6s in the world at the time. We drove more miles and moved more people in GEM vehicles than anyone ever dreamed of doing, all with a perfect traffic and safety record. “Copy catters” soon followed. This took us from doing 90% of our business here in Annapolis, down to less than 10% of our business being done in Annapolis. This continued through 2013.

I hit the “wall” in January of 2014, on a Thursday night in Baltimore, at 10pm when it was pitch black out, minus 4 degrees, working the Baltimore Boat Show. After working 3,000 hours per year, I decided to look into other possibilities. I had divested my majority interest in eCruisers back in 2010, but continued to manage it until I departed/resigned in April of 2014, which allowed for an easy exit.

mid atlantic gemThe frailty of GEM Ownership was getting parts & service, even warranty service. I had become an Accredited Warranty Service Provider for our own vehicles early on, which gave us a huge competitive advantage over any competition. In early 2014, GEM, now owned by Polaris, approached me to become a GEM Dealership, and Mid Atlantic GEM was born. One of our first moves was to become a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green. I figured that over the years I had eaten close to that in appetizers at Green Drinks events, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to give back.

In our first year as a GEM Dealer, we were a Top 5 Selling GEM Dealer in the country, and a #1 North of Georgia (GEM’s were predominantly southern tier vehicles), even though our main focus was toward parts and service. We singlehandedly resurrected the GEM Market in the Mid Atlantic region, by focusing 100% on the GEM Product Line, something nobody had ever done. We proved it would work successfully. We now sell and service vehicles all over the USA and overseas as well.

Now, here in 2020, six years later as a GEM Dealer, we have survived several major business challenges over the years, a two-year, near-death health crisis, culminating in a bone marrow transplant in January of 2020. I recovered just in time for the pandemic to arrive, only to then have to go into self-isolation at my home on the Maryland Shore during the spring of this year.

We’ll only miss this year’s EV Show, because of my spouse’s Milestone Birthday that falls that same week (God, Family, Health). I’m sure it will be an excellent event with Annapolis Green spearheading it. I’ve known Lynne & Elvia now for 13+ years and have maintained near constant touch throughout that entire time. It has been one of the most positive personal relationships, and fruitful business relationships in my life. I am very grateful for all they have done and accomplished with Green Drinks and other programs. I cannot say enough good things about them, and their cause!

Tesla and father & son

Buying My Used Tesla Model 3 Was Super Easy

by Rob Savidge

The Tesla website allows you to put in the exact features you want and it searches its inventory across the entire country. You can do the same thing for used Teslas. That’s what I did and I bought a 2018 Model 3.

I submitted my payment online and after that, the worst part was the wait. But once the car arrived I was notified it was available for pickup.

I showed up at the Tesla store and it was the quickest I got in and out of a “dealership” in my life.

They had everything ready for me. I signed some papers, they handed me the key card, briefed me on the car, and I was off. No haggling or hassles whatsoever.

tesla home chargerI keep my car charged via a Level 2 charger at home (left), thanks to the BGE rebate for charging equipment. I rarely charge when I’m out on my daily travels except on longer trips.

tesla superchargerShe goes 325 miles on a full charge, but all it takes is 15 minutes on a Tesla Supercharger (right) to get to 80% of a full charge. That 15 minutes is time enough to get some lunch or take a quick break.

Editor’s note: Read more about driving electric here.

peach salad

Peaches & Stone Fruits in the Height of the Season

Local & Seasonal Cooking

with Rita Calvert

 

Stone fruits—peaches, apricots, cherries, nectarines, and plums—are some of the great mouth-watering joys of summer. They are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals plus they are low in calories. Stone fruits are super fruits, with plums as emerging stars. One of the benefits found is that plums inhibit breast cancer growth in lab cells. Now is the time to get your fill because the height of the season will soon be upon us.

For ease in separating the halves, the free-stone varieties come into season later and are well worth the wait.

peach salad

Peach Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette 

Serves 4

salad radishes
A salad turnip eaten raw.

Any of the stone fruits work with sweet or savory preparations. This salad is a winner as the succulent white nectarines pair beautifully with the lemon thyme dressing. The thinly sliced salad turnips-no they ARE NOT radishes, give a great crunch along with the hazelnuts.

  • 3 ripe peaches, sliced into thin wedges
  • 3 cups baby lettuces (mesclun)
  • Salad turnips, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces fresh chevre, crumbled
immersion blender making dressing
Using an immersion blender and a canning jar makes preparing vinaigrette a breeze.

In a large bowl, toss together nectarine slices, mesclun, sliced turnips and hazelnuts.

Put vinegar, lemon thyme, salt and pepper in a mason jar, blender or food processor and combine until smooth.

If using the jar with an immersion blender, puree while slowly adding the olive oil.

Divide peach salad among serving plates and drizzle with the fresh vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the chevre crumbles.

 

gorgonzola dish

Grilled Stone with Balsamic Glaze and Gorgonzola

Just because I found them fresh and at Grauls Market, I decided to add a simple dessert to the grilling class I conducted recently. It turned out these grilled jewels were the hit of the class as the flavors couldn’t be more perfect together. Three ingredients are all you need here – amazing! The trick here is to add the room temperature gorgonzola while the peaches are hot.

  • Peaches, scrubbed and cut in half
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Crumbled gorgonzola (or blue cheese), at room temperature

Light the grill to high heat.

Place the prepared peach halves on a tray (to carry to the grill) with cut side up. When the grill is hot, drizzle the peaches with the balsamic glaze. Quickly place glaze-side down on the grill. Sear until nicely browned. Immediately place on a serving plate and sprinkle with gorgonzola so that it melts.

Stone Fruit Salsa on Salmon

Here you go with a savory treatment for stone fruit. For this very fresh salsa I used a lot of what was happening from my kitchen and herb garden. You can interchange any other stone fruit here. Serve it with seafood as I love it, or with chips, beans, or in sandwiches or just by the spoonful!

  • 2 white nectarines, diced
  • 1/2 diced cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced orange tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic chives, thinly sliced

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate for 20 minutes to let season before serving.

CCAMD litter pickup logo

Get outside and help clean up your local waterway or community!

by Jocelyn Fillius
Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCAMD) Seasonal Assistant & Lead of Chesapeake Clean-Up Week

In partnership with the iAngler Tournament cellphone app, anglers (and all others) are being encouraged to photograph and track litter picked up shoreside or aboard a boat. Normally the app is used by anglers competing in fishing tournaments.

This CCAMD litter pickup challenge has been extended to this Sunday, August 9. Get your photos in so you can be at the top of the litter “leaderboard!”

This event runs through the iAngler app just like a fishing tournament, but instead of submitting fish, you submit a photo of your “catch” of trash! The more trash photos you submit, the greater your chances of winning prizes including CCA Maryland stainless drinkware, shirts, and hats. And one lucky CCA Maryland member who participates will win an Engel Backpack Cooler!

What better time than summer to get out there and celebrate all that the Chesapeake Bay has to offer? We are looking forward to working with all of you to help clean-up our watershed and Bay!

This is a good way to keep social distancing and yet do some good for our waterways. It’s natural for anglers and boaters to be concerned about litter in our waterways and to do their part to help. In fact, with this app, we can all get outside to do our bit with social distancing.

Anyone picking up litter anywhere should wear gloves and carefully dispose of what is picked up. There have been many reports of potentially contaminated litter made up of wipes, gloves and masks.

Read more in Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Bay Bulletin and watch CCAMD’s video.

coastal conservation association marylandFor those who don’t know, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Maryland’s Marine Resources. Founded in 1995 and one of 19 state chapters of the national CCA organization, we work with over 1,500 members, including recreational anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, to conserve, enhance and promote marine resources and coastal environments in Maryland. A membership is not required to participate in our event but please JOIN CCA TODAY!

Find out more about the litter “tournament” on the iAngler website.

tasty squash dish

Garden Leadership/Garden Eating

with Rita Calvert

Before we get to recipes, look at this gardening inspiration on showing the way to be a creative leader. To those of us who garden, the lessons are rewarding and incomparable.

“There is a lot that gardening, design, and creative leadership have in common,” states Tim Brown, Executive Chair at IDEO, Vice Chair at kyu Collective. His profound thoughts can, in turn, get us pondering all the benefits of our gardens.

Gardening is generative, iterative, and user-centered – You might be interested in planting a “Grab and Go Garden” that contains only fruits and vegetables that could be eaten straight away… more plants were eaten, less were wasted. A good garden, like good design, needs to meet the needs of its users.

Gardening helps us frame future design challenges – The old assembly-line metaphors of the Industrial Revolution won’t help us design the future. Our world is complex. Like a garden, we must tend it, cultivate it, steward it, and encourage it to meet our needs instead of always trying to be in control of it. Our solutions must accommodate the competing needs of humans and the rest of nature. Successful design, like successful gardening, is never finished and is constantly changing.

Gardening teaches us how to be creative leaders – A gardener helps living things thrive through attentiveness and dialogue. Good leadership starts by finding talented people, giving them a safe space to cultivate their creativity, and letting them grow into their full potential under careful guidance—not a controlling thumb.

Recipes from your garden

Summer squash is what most gardeners and farmers in the region are finding in abundance this time of year. That’s the produce focus this week. Grill, roast, shred, can, pickle or freeze that crookneck, Zephyr, zucchini, yellow zucchini, or pattypan to extend your season. Some tasty ideas are below.

Roasted Zucchini Baton Salad

Serves 2

vegetable mix

Although the zucchini are roasted to bring out the flavor this is a fresh, cool and very filling salad. Basil leaves are used for flavor impact instead of lettuce leaves.

  • 2 medium zucchini cut into “batons” (see photo)
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup small red and orange or yellow tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • About 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Marcona almonds

zucchini batonsPreheat the oven to 400F.

Place the zucchini batons on a baking pan and brush with olive oil. Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 18-20 minutes, until nicely brown. Let cool.

In a large bowl toss together the zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place each portion on a serving plate. Tuck in basil leaves and sprinkle with the almonds.

Crookneck Gazpacho with Cannelini Beans

Serves 4

yellow & green squash

A yellow gazpacho over the traditional red is a delight and simply says summer. This is a chilled soup even though the squash is first simmered and pureed to form the light foundation.

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups diced crookneck squash
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped seeded unpeeled cucumber
  • 1 cup finely chopped freshly roasted yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for topping soup

Bring broth to a boil, add squash and boil gently for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender directly in the pot, puree the squash and let cool.

Stir in the cucumber, roasted bell pepper, onion, balsamic vinegar and Old Bay Seasoning. Taste and adjust spices.

Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of sour cream or thick yogurt.

Pattypan Ricotta Galettes

Makes 4 personal-size galettes

savory squash dish

Summer Squash galettes seem to be enticing for summer’s lush bounty. I’ve traded out basic pastry dough for the extra special puff pastry and made individual tartlets. The galettes need to cool before adding the basil leaves.

  • 6 medium pattypan squash, cut horizontally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, (use divided)
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or lemon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • egg wash-1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

slices of yellow squashCombine squash, 1 tablespoon oil and half of garlic in a bowl.

Combine ricotta, egg, remaining garlic, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring to combine.

Brush the egg wash ONLY on smooth dough surfaces-not cut edges (or it won’t rise).

The points are pulled up; brush the edges with egg wash and pinch together.

squash filled pastryUnwrap puff pastry sheet and place flat on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 equal squares. Place first square on ungreased baking sheet pan. Place a scant 2 tablespoons ricotta mixture in just the center of square. Arrange 4 squash slices overlapping, over ricotta mixture. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. Fold points of dough toward center, brushing the center of the edges with egg wash and pressing gently to seal (see photo). Brush the outside and the folded tips with egg wash. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of puff pastry dough.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Top with grated cheese and a few small fresh basil leaves. Serve.

Jug Bay
jug bay wetlands sanctuaryJoin fellow gardeners, butterfly watchers and native plant enthusiasts in the butterfly garden. Volunteers weed, water, prune and otherwise maintain the Butterfly Garden at the Glendening Preserve’s Plummer House at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. Volunteers learn all about which plants support our native pollinators and how to take care of a vibrant and healthy garden. Occasionally volunteers are welcome to take plants and cuttings home for their own gardens. Bring work gloves, a snack, a refillable water bottle, hat and sunscreen and clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Registration is not required and walk-ins are welcome!
Ages: Open to anyone willing to work
Time: 9 – 11 am
Place:Glendening Nature Preserve (Plummer entrance), 5702 Plummer Ln, Lothian, MD 20711
Contact jugbay@aacounty.org or call 410-222-8006 for more information.
grilled sliders

Local & Seasonal Cooking

with Rita Calvert
from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!

The Grassfed Gourmet Fires it Up! book cover

We’re well into grilling season, so here is one of my favorite recipes from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, which you can find at Annapolis Green on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. First comes a Grilling 101 section, a primer actually, from the book and then a recipe where I made fun and efficient work of mouth-watering sliders for a crowd.

Grilling 101

I want to share this confession from a dear friend who loves farm-fresh food and vows to spend as much time outdoors as possible. “As much as I adore grilled food, I do not know how to do this myself. I don’t even know how to turn on the gas grill or build a charcoal barbecue fire.”

She’s game to try it now with the same easy tips I am sharing here with you. You can find more details in many other books and websites but this basic primer will get you started and reduce the stress of this oh-so-versatile cooking method that makes food so tasty. With this primer and the recipes you’ll find in The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, you will be barbecuing all summer (or year-round) like an old hand. Start by practicing on yourself or with a small group.

Plan ahead
You can cook just about anything on the grill. With just a little planning, you will have your indoor kitchen clutter-free and cleaned up, even before serving the meal, regardless of whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or a whole gang of friends. Best of all, you won’t be washing loads of pots and pans in the wee hours after a relaxed meal. If you plan side dishes that are safe to serve at room temperature, such as breads and simple vegetable and potato side dishes, you will have even more freedom to prepare ahead and then relax.

For a crowd, you can prepare side dishes ahead (or assign sides to your guests), present them on serving platters, then completely clean up your indoor kitchen before the meal.

If you’re cooking for a party, get the basics—such as the centerpiece, plates, flatware, serving pieces, and some condiments—on the table before guests arrive. This will save time later in the evening when your food is ready for serving.

Set the stage for grilling
Before you fire up the grill, be practical. Position your grill away from all shrubbery, overhangs, grass, or other flammable surfaces or materials. Don’t even think about a closed area like a garage. Your grill should be on a stable surface. Never use gasoline or kerosene to start your fire. And make sure the grill is clean and the vents are open and airy—they should not be clogged with old ashes.

Choose your grill
When it comes to quick and easy cooking, a gas grill is probably the most convenient way to go, but nothing beats the flavor of foods cooked over real wood or charcoal. Not to worry, though, because you can do both at once.

Add real wood flavor to your gas-grilled foods by placing small green or water-soaked wood chips on foil that has been punctured with a few holes to let air circulate. Start the grill and then place the package on a portion of the gas element and let it start to smoke. If you are using a charcoal grill, be aware of the time it takes to prepare the fire and heat the grill before you start cooking. This can vary depending on the type of wood or charcoal you use, so test different brands beforehand and stick with the one that works best with your grill.

Prepare your grill
Prepare the grill by rubbing clean grates with cooking oil using a paper towel. Food won’t stick and cleaning up is far less messy and stressful.

Always preheat your grill—with the lid closed—for the time recommended for the brand and style of your grill or to the suggested temperature in the recipe you’re following. Gas grills need to be turned on at least 10 minutes before cooking. If you use a charcoal grill, allow the coals to burn for at least 30 minutes or until the flames subside before cooking.

Note: Always keep the bottom tray and drip pan of your gas grill clean and free of debris. This not only prevents dangerous grease fires, but it also deters visits from unwanted critters. A sprinkle of red pepper in the pan is another safe way to discourage animals.

Light your Grill
For gas grilling: Read all grilling instructions that came with your grill first; every grill ignites differently. In general, however, you start by opening the grill lid, then opening the tank valve, then turning the front/first burner to high heat. Allow 2 to 3 seconds for the gas chamber to fill. Then push the igniter button firmly. The burner should light after only one or two pushes of the button. Once the first burner is lit, turn the middle/next burner to high heat and repeat with the other burners until all burners are lit. Close the lid. Allow the grill to preheat on high to 500° to 550°F. Place your food on the cooking rack and adjust burners to the temperatures and cooking method given in the recipe.

Consult your grill’s instructions about what to do if there are flare-ups. In my experience, when flare-up occurs, I turn all burners to the off position and then move the food to another area of the cooking grate. Then, I light the grill again. Never use water to extinguish flames on a gas grill.

For charcoal grilling: I have found the best method for firing up a charcoal grill is with a quick-start chimney. They usually sell for about $12-15 where grills are sold. Fill the bottom of the chimney with some crumbled newspaper, then place charcoal or briquettes on top of that, and ignite. In about 25 minutes, your coals should be ready. The charcoal will be lightly coated with ash. Carefully pour the heated charcoal out of the starter and into the grill. Arrange it evenly across the charcoal rack for the “direct method” of grilling or on either side of grate for the “indirect method” of grilling. New terms? See below.

Another option for starting your charcoal grill is to place crumpled newspaper or fuel cubes on the charcoal grate. Cover the paper with charcoal briquettes to form a pyramid (not too huge) and then light the charcoal. It should be ready in about 25 minutes when a light grey ash coats all of the briquettes. We recommend learning to do this without using lighter fluid to keep your grilling simple, clean, and safe.

Choose your grilling method
Before preparing your grill, decide if the food you are grilling requires “direct” or “indirect” heat. With a little practice, these two approaches to cooking will become second nature—and you will have mastered one of the most important grilling techniques. Remember, though, whether you are cooking with the direct method or indirect method, always grill with the lid on.

Grilling with direct heat is similar to broiling except that the heat source is below the food; in other words, the food is cooked directly over the heat source (thus “direct” heat cooking). Use the direct method for foods that take less than 25 minutes to cook, such as steaks, chops, kebabs, sausages, and vegetables. Direct cooking is also necessary in order to sear meats.

The indirect method is similar to roasting but with the added benefit of grilled texture, flavor, and appearance, which you can’t get from an oven. This is best for foods that require 25 minutes or more of grilling time or foods that are so delicate that direct exposure to the heat source would dry them out or scorch them. Use the indirect method for roasts, ribs, whole chickens, turkeys, and other large cuts of meat as well as for delicate fish fillets.

Direct-heat cooking: how-to
To grill on a charcoal grill using a direct-heat method, spread prepared coals evenly across the charcoal grate. Set the cooking grate over the coals and light the coals. Once the coals are ready, place the food on the cooking grate. Close the lid, lifting it only to turn food or to test for doneness at the end of the recommended cooking time.

To grill on a gas grill using a direct-heat method, preheat the grill with all burners on high. Place the food on the cooking grate and then adjust all burners to the temperature noted in the recipe. Close the lid of the grill and lift only to turn food or to test for doneness toward the end of the recommended cooking time.

For even cooking, food should be turned once halfway through the grilling time. Searing creates that crisp, caramelized texture where the food hits the grate. Those nice grill marks add more than visual appeal, they flavor the entire food surface. Steaks, chops, chicken pieces, and larger cuts of meat all benefit from searing.

Indirect-heat method: how-to
To grill on a charcoal grill using the indirect-heat method, arrange hot coals evenly on either side (or around the perimeter) of the charcoal grate. A drip pan placed in the center of the charcoal grate between the coals is useful to collect drippings that can be used for gravies and sauces. It also helps prevent flare-ups when cooking fattier foods, such as chicken or turkey with the skin on, goose, duck, or certain roasts. For longer cooking times, add water to the drip pan to keep drippings from burning. Place the cooking grate over the coals, light the charcoal, and once the grill is heated, place the food on the cooking grate, centered over the drip pan or charcoal grate. Close the lid and lift only to baste or check for doneness at the end of the suggested cooking time.

If you are using a gas grill, preheat the grill with all burners on high. Then adjust the burners on the sides to the temperature noted in the recipe. Turn off the burner(s) directly below the food. For best results, place roasts, poultry, or large cuts of meat on a roasting rack set inside a disposable heavy foil pan. For longer cooking times, add water to the foil pan to keep drippings from burning.

In some cases, it is best to sear the food first to obtain grill marks and then place the food in a cast iron or an aluminum pan to catch the juices for the rest of the cooking time. Heat rises, reflects off the lid and inside surfaces of the grill, and slowly cooks the food evenly on all sides. The circulating heat works much like a convection oven so there’s no need to turn the food.

Prepare meat, poultry or seafood for grilling
For steaks and chops, trim excess fat, leaving only a scant 1/4-inch of fat, which is sufficient to flavor the meat. For poultry, note that the skin has enough fat to feed the flame, potentially leading to flare ups. Less fat is a virtual guarantee against flare-ups and it makes cleanup easier.

After trimming the meat, marinate according to the recipe or rewrap and chill. About an hour before grilling (but for food safety, no earlier), allow meat to come to room temperature.

Cooking tips
Create two temperature zones in your grill: one warm and one hot. If you use a gas grill, turn one side to high heat and keep the other on low. If you use a wood/charcoal grill, the trick is to push most of the embers toward one side. This will help cook pieces of food more evenly by allowing you to periodically move them from low heat to high.

Hold the sauce. If you’re using barbecue sauce or any sauce that contains sugar or fat, wait until about the last 15 minutes before slathering it on (if you’ve marinated your meat in advance, just blot it with a paper towel before placing it on the grill). Since sugar and oil will cause lots of flames and char the food, plan to reduce the heat a bit after you add the sauce.

Allow more cooking time on cold or windy days or at higher altitudes, and less time in extremely hot weather.

Once you put the food on the grate, allow it to cook a bit before any turning. Your food needs about 10 minutes of cooking time for its surface to cook enough to release from the grill easily without sticking and tearing.

Always use a spatula or tongs when you handle the meat on the grill. Using a fork to pierce meat while it is cooking will cause all the yummy juices to escape, thereby drying out your meat.

Use a meat thermometer and a timer so you know when it’s time to take food off the grill. Checking meats for internal temperatures is the best way to determine when food is properly cooked or when done is about to become overdone.

Soon after you finish cooking, use a wire brush to scrape and clean the grates—it’s so much easier to clean it up when it is still warm.

Spicy Ground beef or Bison Sliders
with Talbot Reserve Cheese and Curry Ketchup

Serves 8

grilled slidersEach of these sliders weighs about 1 ounce so the ground beef or bison goes a long and tasty way as small bites or hors d’oeuvres. I have served these at my River Dinners and at a local cooking class because everyone loves a great burger. I topped each slider with a rich, cave-aged cheddar from Chapel Country Creamery in Easton, Maryland. You can garnish and build these sliders as you wish… adding to the bread or letting your guests add their own toppings, such as sliced onions, pickles, and lettuce or arugula. It’s a good idea to make the curry ketchup in advance and keep it refrigerated.

For the sliders:
• 12 ounces ground beef or bison
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1 ciabatta loaf of bread, sliced horizontally, but not through, to open like a book
• Freshly grated Talbot Reserve or other full-flavor aged cheddar cheese, room temperature

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Place the beef or bison in a bowl and add salt and pepper, stirring briefly with a fork. Form the meat into 2 rectangular burgers, ¾-inch thick, so they fit neatly onto the bread.

Grease the grill rack and add the burgers without crowding. Grill on one side until nicely browned, then turn and brown the other side, making sure that the burgers remain rare and juicy. While the second side browns, top the burgers with the cheese to allow it to melt. Place the opened ciabatta bread on the grill until just golden and warm. Then, while still warm, spread one side liberally with curry ketchup.

Remove the burgers to a cutting board and let rest for a moment. Lay the open ciabatta on the cutting board. Place each burger on the bottom half of the bread. Close the bread firmly and cut crosswise into 2-inch thick slices. A toothpick in each slice holds it all together and makes it easy to pick up.

For the curry ketchup:
• 1 12-ounce bottle chile sauce
• 1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon curry powder
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Combine all.

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