Author: Elvia Thompson

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.

GreenGive

Annapolis Green Wades In with GreenGive Partners

On Sunday, June  14, GreenGive organization members and volunteers, including Annapolis Green, followed the “Wade In” tradition started by State Senator Bernie Fowler 33 years ago in the Patuxent River by wading into Annapolis’ four creeks to assess water clarity. The waders move into the water until they can no longer see their feet or their sneakers, as an unscientific, yet easy-to-understand measure of how clear our creek waters are.

Results:

  • Back Creek (2019 measurement was 43.3”)
    • 40” at Annapolis Maritime Museum
    • 30” at Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Back Creek Nature Park
  • College Creek (2019 measurement was 39.4”)
    • 19.5” at the St. John’s College living shoreline
  • Spa Creek (2019 measurement was 19.7”)
    • 26” at Truxtun Park
  • Weems Creek (2019 measurement was 29.5”)
    • 25.5” at Dewey Dock

In summary, Back Creek clarity was about the same as last year, College Creek was half as clear, Spa Creek was more clear, and Weems Creek was slightly less clear. This year more underwater grasses are being seen in almost all of the Bay’s tributaries.

Water clarity is important because it can affect the health of underwater grasses which are a critical part of the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries. When water is murky sunlight reaching underwater grasses is reduced making it difficult or impossible for photosynthesis to happen. Bay and river water can become cloudy from excess nutrients (such as fertilizers) and sediments (soil runoff or erosion in rainstorms) which fuel algae growth. When the algae dies the decomposition reduces available oxygen in the water harming aquatic wildlife.

Senator Fowler began his informal “sneaker index” of water clarity because he was concerned about the declining health of the Patuxent and the Chesapeake Bay. When he was a boy he could see crabs scurrying under his feet at chest-high depth. Read more here. The tradition has continued throughout the Bay and its tributaries.

GreenGiveThe GreenGive is a collaborative fundraising partnership that includes ten  small environmental nonprofits that work completely or primarily in Anne Arundel County. Funds raised by the 24-hour campaign, taking place this year on July 21-22, will be used to invest in actions that have a tangible impact on our own local waterways and quality of life. Every dollar raised will be turned into projects and programs that make a difference in Anne Arundel County.

The partners are:

  • Annapolis Green
  • Arundel Rivers Federation
  • ClearShark H2O
  • Scenic Rivers Land Trust
  • Severn River Association
  • Severn Riverkeeper
  • Spa Creek Conservancy
  • Luke’s Restoration of Nature
  • Unity Gardens
  • Watershed Stewards Academy

Read more about the GreenGive here: https://greengive.org.

man wading into Back Creek
Steve Adams wades into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum beach where the water clarity allowed him to see his feet at a depth of 40 inches.
woman wading into Spa Creek
Amy Clements of Spa Creek Conservancy waded into Spa Creek at Truxtun Park to 26 inches before she could no longer see her feet.
man wading into Back Creek
Chris “Goose” Norman wades 30 inches into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Back Creek Nature Park, social distancing with his mask.
woman wading into College Creek
Elvia Thompson of Annapolis Green could not see her feet any deeper than 19.5 inches in College Creek at St. John’s College’s living shoreline.
tesla model s

by Cory Bonney

When Consumer Reports gave Tesla Model S its highest car rating ever… at 100%, and designated it the safest automobile ever made, I was completely hooked. All I needed to do was to figure out a way to own one.

I started driving during the gas crisis of the 1970s, taking my place in mile-long lines on hot, humid August days in Northern Virginia. The whole experience must have had a huge impact on me in that I never truly recognized nor did I ever really recover from it.

The first relatively high-production electric car to come out in my lifetime was the Nissan Leaf. My wife, daughter, and I participated in an agonizing appointment that was put on nationwide by Nissan. Most people at the time, and those in the crowd who accompanied us during this particular test drive, were really concerned about running out of battery… charge anxiety, we were all calling it. After all, the first Leaf only carried a 100 mile charge. But there was an interesting exchange during the build-up to actually getting behind the wheel of that Leaf.

The Nissan representative, standing in front of a pretty good sized group of interested electric car drivers, asked for a show of hands as he asked, “How many people commute more than 50 miles to work?” Quite literally and quite honestly, two hands out of about 40 people went up. It was a great marketing approach, and the hook for going electric was set. This would be the kind of car that I would be excited to drive in the very near future.

Other all electrics, higher mileage hybrids, gas charging hybrids, and plug-in hybrids started coming on the scene, and among them, of course, was the all-electric Tesla. Soon after came the Consumer Reports ratings… and then, rather shockingly, the price tag. Model S was first, and with the base price of $75 to $85 thousand; but that was before installing any seats. Joking.

Once you added just a few things, a new Tesla was $90 to over $100 thousand. It was so far out of my league; and quite frankly, to my way of thinking, a ridiculous amount to pay for any kind of personal transportation, even considering how much I absolutely came to love the car.

Early in their history of car sales, Tesla Corporate had a program of allowing trade-ins of Tesla cars on a new purchase. Even as I am recording my experience, the company does a horrible job of promoting the fact that these high quality, much lower cost products are available. I do not exactly remember how I found out about resale cars that are put through a 70-point computer evaluation. And if necessary, they recondition their own vehicles. However, somewhere along my path, which included hanging out with my friend Elvia Thompson (our number one green guru here in Annapolis), I started going to electric car events, installed three Tesla brand chargers at my business and hosted Tesla car owners on site. Conversations led me to the fact that these used Teslas existed. I wondered if this could be the path to ownership for me.

A few years ago, there were websites that were not affiliated with Tesla that had dozens and dozens of used models available; but research revealed that while some of these vehicles could be “as advertised,” they did not carry the same 70-point inspection nor the extended warranties. Additionally, any one of these non-Tesla certified cars could have been in an accident and may have been astutely repaired, masking a host of electronic problems that could surface down the road.

Tesla was only beginning to web host its own well maintained and certified used cars when I began seriously thinking that I could and would want to afford one. I was seeing great looking cars with significant mileage and fewer upgrades in the $40,000 range. After watching the inventory come and go from the site, I strategized my own way of evaluating what features I had to have and which were unnecessary. I also was heavily focused on mileage. Interestingly, most of the cars had less than 50,000 miles. So consumers were buying the new cars, and fairly quickly turning them in for the next best new thing… a Tesla with a longer range battery and more features.

I don’t know how much has changed in over two years since we bought our Model S, but initially, you were buying a virtual car. Ours was in Connecticut where we found this silver car with less than 20,000 miles. There were dozens of photos of the car, taken in some sort of show room. Every angle was covered, and they showed everything, door dings, wheel cover curb scrapes, a scratch here or there (if applicable). And the customer put down a deposit based on never actually having seen and touched the car. It was a 2015 model year, two years old and was as exciting as… well, many other firsts.

man with Tesla
Cory Bonney with his Tesla Model S, charging at his Bed & Breakfast

Taking possession of your new (or used) Tesla is akin to what it must be like to walk the “red carpet” in Hollywood. The new owner is the star of the show, and the anticipation builds until the proverbial curtain is pulled back to premiere your vehicle. More than two years later, our car is the best, most exciting, trouble free automobile we have ever owned.

We now have 40,000 miles on the car, doubling the miles that our car started with. With no tune ups required, no oil to change, no topping off of the radiator, no timing belt to wear out, no water pump to replace… well, you get the basic idea. Virtually and literally it is trouble free. Nothing is perfect of course. We have had four minor repairs (free, because the car is still under full warranty).

For three of the repairs, a mobile unit comes to the house and completes the work in your driveway or garage. On the in-shop repair, which included new tires (we paid for the tires), we were given a $250 Uber voucher to use at our discretion. The repair went longer than planned (tires out of stock) and without so much as a minor hassle, they automatically added another $200 to the voucher to cover any other inconvenience.

We love this car, and there is no going back. Electric is simply the future. Whether you want to afford a new version or save a few dollars and purchase one used like ours, embrace the future of nearly perfect transportation.

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

50th Earth Day calls for a new, better normal

by Elvia Thompson and Suzanne Kilby Etgen

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it’s clear that the struggle to restore our environment — to heal the Chesapeake Bay — is not unlike the struggle we have faced for the last six weeks. The entire world has been affected by the pandemic, just as the whole world is affected by climate change.

Locally, we are all especially affected by pollution in the air and in our waters. Only by working together will we restore and protect the environment that nurtures us. The pandemic has taught us that lesson.

For the past six weeks, we have worked together to flatten the curve. We’ve each done our part — some working at home, “teaming and zooming,” helping our children learn remotely, and forgoing in-person social events.

Simultaneously, some of us face real danger on the front lines in our hospitals, grocery stores and other essential businesses. There is real suffering, not only from the virus but also from loss of income.

We have put aside our own wants, our own needs, and even our own safety, for the health of people we cannot see or will never know, as much as for those we hold dear. Because of this we are making progress.

During this time, the natural world has become a refuge. We are spending more time in our backyards, visiting local parks, and walking through our neighborhoods. Many of us are gardening and adding vegetables to our landscape. Sheltering in place gives us the opportunity to observe the natural world waking up in the miracle of spring, a miracle that happens each year, whether we are watching or not.

As we’ve noticed these new things, we are reminded that nature is an integral part of our lives. It’s a lesson from the pandemic.

Healing our environment takes all of us, not just those working on environmental issues, but every person. In the 2017 Citizen Stewardship Indicator Survey, 87 percent of Anne Arundel County residents believed that we can clean up our local rivers and streams if we work together.

We agree, and there is scientific evidence to back that up!

In the last five years, residents, watershed organizations and local governments have teamed up to install a record number of restoration projects and water clarity, bay grasses and blue crabs have all begun to rebound. Yet, in that same survey, less than 40 percent of residents believed their actions contribute to local water pollution. The pandemic teaches us that individual actions matter.

That’s the message of this Earth Day — more relevant, more powerful, more comforting than ever. A clean environment is critical — our very breath depends on clean air, our life depends on clean water. Our economy, our food, and our health depend on a clean environment. A clean environment is within our reach because our actions matter.

We want to “get back to normal,” but we know that normal will never be the same. Instead, what we need is a Better Normal – a way of life that has, at its core, respect for science, understanding of the interdependence of all life, and commitment to work together in good times and bad.

In a better normal, we all do our part. We join our local environmental organizations — the ones that work in our neighborhood, city, or county. And we join regional and national organizations that address broader environmental issues.

We make small changes that make a difference in our own homes… we plant trees, reduce throw-away plastic, drive no-emissions electric cars, say no to toxic pesticides, grow vegetables and native plants to feed the pollinators. We teach our kids that our collective efforts matter.

Go outside today. Let the sun warm your face. Feel the wind. Smell the Earth waking up. Trust the science and your neighbors. Know that your actions matter. Let’s build a Better Normal together.

Published in the Capital Gazette, April 22, 2020.
Suzanne Kilby Etgen is the director of the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy.
Elvia Thompson is the president and co-founder of Annapolis Green.

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