Elotes

I’m fairly certain that I have written about elotes, or Mexican street corn, in a previous life, but as our area becomes sweet corn central, it’s not a bad thing to refresh your memory about this superior way to eat corn on (or off) the cob.

Elotes – or its cousin, esquites – is one way to make corn a meal.  We first became acquainted with it due to our worship of Pati Jinich, the Queen of the Mexican table. Here is her technique for what she calls “Mexican Crazy Corn”. You can google both styles to find many, many “recipes” for this dish, or you can just gather together the following ingredients and have at it:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Lime juice
  • Cojita cheese or queso fresco (both readily available at the Hispanic market in Chestertown, or use Parmesan instead)
  • Cilantro – if you hate it, skip it
  • Cayenne or chile powder, if you like

What we do is mix the mayo with a little lime juice, enough to thin it out somewhat, and then we add the chopped cilantro and some of the crumbled cheese into that mixture.  Some techniques just spread the corn with mayonnaise and then sprinkle on the cheese separately, but we figure, it’s all going to the same place…

So, take your hot corn – grilled, boiled, steamed, whichever works for you – and spread the mayo-lime-cheese mixture on the cob just like you would butter.  Serve more crumbled cheese on the side to add as needed.  Sprinkle a little hot pepper powder on it and dive in.  Be sure to have plenty of napkins for this one!  And a spoon to scrape up the tasty bits that fall off the cob!

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The Only Muffin Recipe You’ll Ever Need

This is a real muffin recipe, not a cupcake posing as the more healthy muffin in hopes of getting on the breakfast table. This is a bran muffin, and now is the time to make it with some of the local blueberries available to us this time of the summer. I’ve had it in my loose-leaf recipe binder for decades, coming from a woman who worked with us at the Ironstone and later at Brooks as well. One of the main attractions is that you can make the batter, keep it in the fridge and just scoop out what you need the morning you need it. It will last for more than a few days.

(When I thought about posting this, I thought I’d take a picture of the original recipe to share it. But. My phone has died. The Friday before the Fourth of July weekend and I am going to be without it for the weekend at least. Funny how depressing that is, not to have your phone? I mean, how does a person survive a weekend safely isolated at home without their phone?? Well, we’ll find out.)

Lisa’s Bran Muffins

  • Combine 3 cups of bran flakes, 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of boiling water in a mixing bowl. Combine and let cool before adding the remaining ingredients.
  • Add to the cooled bran mixture, 2 beaten eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup dried fruit (if you are planning to use fresh blueberries, eliminate the dried and add the fresh when you are actually baking the muffins).
  • Mix together in a separate bowl 2.5 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2.5 cups all purpose flour. Add to the wet and combine thoroughly.
  • When ready to bake, add any fresh fruit like the blueberries, if you have chosen that option, set the oven to 425 and bake for 20 minutes or so.
  • Keep the batter in the refrigerator to use as needed for up to 2 weeks (although it lasts longer it does begin to get a little “tired” if you keep it too long).

This Fourth of July weekend won’t be like any we’ve celebrated in the past.  But one thing won’t be any different – it’s going to be hot!  And one thing that is a lifesaver over a hot holiday weekend when you can’t go anywhere and don’t even have your phone anymore, is a nice pitcher of rosé sangria in the cooler!  I like to take not my favorite or most expensive bottle but one that is  more like the “house” rosé, and add to it 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur, 1/4 cup brandy and 1/2 to 1 cup of a juice that you think would go well – I like the Ceres brand selections of berry juice or the passion fruit.  Add fruit – raspberries, whole cherries, blueberries all would be good right now – and a few thin slices of fresh orange.  Let it all meld together for a few hours in the fridge and when ready, pour a generous glass over ice, making sure to get some of that macerated fruit in there, top with seltzer water and head out to the patio to enjoy.  Soon you will be saying, “Pandemic?  What pandemic?”

Remember to play a few patriotic songs, wear a nice red white and blue outfit and have your own parade around the yard, hoisting your glass of sangria and waving a blueberry muffin.  Your neighbors will thank you for the entertainment.

 

 

Produce Time

As bad as things seem to be these days, when just waking up in the morning can bring a whole new calliope of anger and pain, it’s good to know that the farmers of the Eastern Shore are out there continuing to provide us with fresh fruits and vegetables each summer.

We made a stop at the Redman’s Wagon on Monday, and as luck would have it, not only was our man Bill Kelly manning the stand, but who should also show up but Cathy Redman herself!  No hugging was allowed, but it certainly was great to see them both, and to see all the things they had on the Wagon. Cucumbers and strawberries, cabbage and cauliflower, sugar snap peas and English peas.  Not to mention plants!

And Godfrey’s in Sudlersville, another respite from reality.  Here we get tons of asparagus, blueberries and cherries, corn of course and every manner of vegetable in between.  Plus, Godfrey’s has the added bonus of selling their own kettle corn, popped right there in the barn, sometimes right before your eyes.  And ice cream! And Lisa’s delectable baked goods, using Godfrey’s produce.  It’s impossible to leave empty handed.

And Arnold Farm, with their wagon parked conveniently besides the Tastee Freeze, right now offering spinach and chard, squash and lettuce, plus plants and later on the best heirloom tomatoes you can find.  Not to mention corn.  And sunflowers.  And melons and peppers and beets.  All summer long we have access to this bounty of produce, without getting our own fingers dirty.

And these are only a small number of the Produce Production People in this area. Let’s then add to our riches, because we also have the Chestertown Farmer’s Market, currently set up at the East Coast Storage on lower High Street.  We have not been good customers at the Market this spring, due to our own business taking up extra time on Saturday mornings, but it is the place to go for every variety of fresh produce you can ever want, with the added bonus of talking to the people who grew it.

Eventually there will be smaller farm stands at the end of farm lanes around the county.  Perhaps even more this year than usual, since it seems that a greater number of people are gardening than usual, and when they discover they just cannot eat one more zucchini, maybe they’ll set up shop at the end of their road and sell some to us!  One summer we discovered the absolute best sweet corn we’d ever had, at a little stand selling only corn on Still Pond Road.  It was a one time deal, but we’ve never forgotten it.

Right now we are in the thick of peas and cherries.  We got a big bucket of English peas from Redman, and immediately set ourselves on the porch shelling, as is customary.

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They are now all happily ensconced in the freezer.  The cherries, sour pie cherries, are from Godfrey’s.

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Half are already pitted and half of those are in the process of becoming Sour Cherry Preserves with Cherry Brandy.  The recipe comes from one  of my favorite cookbooks, “Fancy Pantry” by Helen Witty.  This recipe is new to us,  and is a three day affair.  So far we have cooked the cherries for 20 minutes with a little water, then strained them and added sugar and lemon juice to the liquid left behind.  This was boiled for 5 minutes, then added back to the cherries, which will sit out over night.  Tomorrow we will cook them again, in the syrup, for 4 minutes, then set aside for another 24 hours, until Friday when we will cook them one more time, for 3 minutes.  We are definitely adding the “optional” Kirschwasser just before we process them.  I’ll let you know how it turns out, seeing as preserves are not something we make every day.

The rest of the cherries will become jam and cherry hand-pies, a project for Friday as well.  Cherry pie must be eaten every summer, and since it would be uncomfortable for Kevin and I to eat a whole cherry pie by ourselves, we are going to make individual hand-pies, which can go into the freezer and baked as needed.

Thinking about sugar corn, prepared as “Elote”, or Mexican Street Corn, with mayonnaise and queso fresco, gets me out of the bed in the morning.  Or watermelon, which I eat every single day when it is in season.  And of course, everyone’s favorite – real field grown tomatoes, sliced thick between two slices of white bread, tons of mayo and plenty of salt and pepper.  Who needs more than that?  All this produce, soon at a stand or market near you.  Thinking about it makes wearing a mask and refraining from hugs a bit less trying.  Life may not be what we’d like it to be right now, but the Farmers will see us through and we will eat like nothing is wrong with the world.

 

MacSal

I am a big fan of macaroni salad.  But I am particular – I don’t like it gloppy and overly mayo-d or sweet. And of course no one really needs a recipe for this iconic summer dish, just make it like your mother made it before you, right? Well, maybe I don’t need a ‘recipe’, but I do need some way to shake it up a bit, get away from the mayonnaise pickle relish rut. And finally I have found a recipe that works for me, which I am going to share now with you so you too can have life-changing MacSal any time you want.

The original recipe came from the NYT recipe section, which isn’t accessible without a subscription to that service, separate from the newspaper.  Luckily I had printed it out when it first appeared, and so we don’t have to suffer the frustration of trying to share it without being able to link to it.

Macaroni Salad with Lemon and Herbs:

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ⅔ cup minced bread-and-butter pickles
  • 2 large stalks celery, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill, plus small sprigs for garnish
  • ¼ cup drained jarred capers, chopped, plus 3 tablespoons caper brine
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest and 4 teaspoons juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optionalI didn’t use any)
  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni

Here’s what you do: the beauty of this recipe, to me, it that you pretty much do what you want to do.  The only important guideline is the use of equal parts mayonnaise and buttermilk for the dressing: this is key.  But basically, the procedure is something like this:

  • Cook your pasta – I personally am a big fan of either cavatappi or even better, ditalini.  But elbows will do.
  • Mix together the buttermilk, mayo and mustard, lemon zest and juice.
  • To that, add everything else except the chopped herbs.
  • If you don’t have bread and butter pickles, obviously you can use any pickle you like – I’ve made it with cornichons as well as the b&b: both good.  Also, if you like pickles like I do, add more!
  • I’ve also substituted finely chopped red onion for the scallions, as much as I thought it needed.
  • As far as the herbs go, here’s where you can just do what you want to do.  Don’t have dill? Use cilantro.  Hate cilantro?  Use more parsley and maybe a little basil or tarragon.  Or equal parts parsley and tarragon.  Or all parsley.  Or, and this is where you can really go crazy – add shredded butter lettuce or chopped steamed spinach.  Add avocado – especially if you use cilantro as part of your herb mix.  Asparagus is great in it, and so would be fresh peas.  Monday I added steamed lambs quarter to it.  There’s no end to the madness!!  The only thing to consider is make sure the flavors you select go will together, that’s all that really matters.
  • And don’t let the measurements of the herbs threaten you – add as much as you want, I’d say up to a cup or two total, especially if you use any salad type greens.
  • Toss your selection of greens and vegetables with the cooked macaroni, then add the dressing.
  • Salt and pepper to season is your own preference.  (Don’t forget to salt your pasta water when you cook the macaroni!!)

It’s good right away and even better with an hour chill down in the fridge.

Bacon would be good…

Biscuits Lead to Shortcake

Of course this time of year – May, that warm, sunny month that welcomes summer, right? – biscuits are the gateway to Strawberry Shortcake.  Once you’ve got your biscuit thing down, you are on your way.

If your recipe calls for sugar, you are set.  If it doesn’t, add a tablespoon to sweeten up the biscuit for its dessert duty.  You can either pat your dough into one big cake:

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Or make your individual biscuits as usual.  We had planned to make a big cake, just for us! but common sense won out, so we made a big cake but cut wedges for each portion.  Either way, it is important, while the shortcakes are baking (if not before) to start your berries sugaring.  They need time to put off some syrup to juicy up those biscuits:

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These were the best strawberries we’ve had in a long time.  Probably since last May, at least.  They were offered as “seconds”, for 1.25 less a quart than the “firsts”.  Who cares if they are lumpy and misshapen?  You’re just going to cut them up anyway!  I’m not going to tell you where we get them, because they regularly sell out and I want at least two more quarts before this already short season ends all too soon.

The process for putting your strawberry shortcakes together is a simple one, but important steps must be followed.  You must split the biscuit(s) and spread them with soft butter.  Then, either heat them up in the oven, or place them on a griddle, butter side down, and toast them until they are golden brown and warmed through.

Place the bottom biscuit half in a generous plate or shallow soup bowl, for maximum efficiency.  Spoon a bunch of sugared berries on top, place the top of the biscuit on the berries and ladle the rest of the strawberries and all of the juice over that.  Lastly, a mound of freshly whipped cream, very lightly sweetened, over all.  (Lewes Dairy makes the best cream for this purpose, hands down.)  Finally, dig in.

I recommend having this for supper at least once during the season.  Not for dessert after supper: For. Supper.  Life is short!

 

 

Biscuit Mania

Since the ShuTDowN, we have been enjoying Sunday Cocktail and Appetizer Hour with our neighbors, who also happen to be my brother and his wife.  We gather (safely distanced) in our respective yards, maybe with a fire going, maybe not, to drink wine and have an appetizer together, before departing back home for dinner.   (Sometimes dinner doesn’t happen but we plan for it anyway.)  My sister-in-law is a very good cook, who likes to try new recipes, so having a Chef for a guest gives her quite an opportunity to experiment.  She knows Kevin will try anything!

A couple of weeks ago she really raised the bar with a perfect campside snack of pizza dough mini-pies filled with hot dog, various condiments and tons of deliciousness.  With that effort the bar was raised considerably, and Kevin was on the defensive.  Then, last week, the bar went even higher as she threw down the biscuit gauntlet, serving us some of the flakiest little cocktail biscuits we’ve ever had, stuffed with ham salad.  Oh my.  It was all I could do to stop at two.

We were haunted by those biscuits.  We had to attempt to make some for ourselves.

I tried twice, with 2 different recipes and methods.  First, Monday night.  The Joy of Cooking classic biscuit recipe calls for working the fat into the flour in the same way you make pie dough, creating  dough-y clumps, which, upon the addition of the milk or buttermilk, come into a mass of dough with a little kneading at the end.  I used lard, which I love for the flavor.  Success was mixed – I think I overworked the (soft) lard into the dry ingredients, and then compounded the problem by rolling them out too thin.  Some people don’t even want you to roll out the dough, just pat it out, for that very reason.  Here’s the look:

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You can see they are kind of flat, not flaky.  Flavor wise they were fine, if a little “gummy”, maybe from less than desirable cooking time.  Anyway, we’re going to try again.

Tuesday night – a new recipe from a cooking magazine.  This recipe calls for grating frozen butter into your dry ingredients, tossing it together with a fork and then adding the milk/buttermilk.  I got worn out grating the butter after just a few ounces, so Kevin had to take over that chore.  Everything else remained the same, except I patted the dough out instead of using a rolling pin.  Also, you may notice our biscuits are square – that’s because we cut them with a knife into blocks, rather than cut them in rounds with a biscuit cutter.  Because, no matter what they say, re-rolled dough is never as tender as the original.  Cutting them eliminates the leftover pieces and you can get some weird shapes to boot – like the “boats” below – if your “rectangle” is a little “rounded” on the edges:

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A little taller and seemingly flakier, but in the taste test, they were still a tad underwhelming, a little of that “gummy” texture again.  Still not competitively flaky in texture.  We had to eat two each to figure that out.

So, the scale is not too friendly after two biscuit laden meals in a row – biscuits and butter! – so we skipped Wednesday for trials and went back to it on Thursday.  This time Kevin got into the act and went through his method of biscuit making, using the same magazine recipe for proportions of ingredients:

(FYI – click on the first image to start a slideshow of events, if you’d like.)

The only ding is that they are kind of unevenly shaped.  Chef  says the reason they are sort of rounded on one end is he should have brushed the flour off  before folding so the ends would have risen more evenly.  Flavor – check plus.  Texture – check plus.  Ease of production – well, maybe a little more complicated, but not terrible.

Next time, we are adding a little extra sugar to the recipe and having ourselves some strawberry shortcake for our biscuit dinner!!

 

Ricotta Cheese

In these days of panic buying and hoarding, you’ve got to wonder what are people doing with all that chicken, not to mention toilet paper.  And of course, my big question is, where are all the chicken wings?  Every restaurant in the country had chicken wings on their menu, so shouldn’t there have been a glut in the grocery store by now?

We had an excess of milk.  Not hoarding or panic buying by any means, just bought a gallon of whole milk last week when a half would probably have been enough.  So, with half of it still sitting in the walk-in, and the expiration date being the 28th of April, what should we do?  At first we thought to freeze it to use in soups and such later, but then we read about making ricotta cheese!

There seems to be thousands of recipes for making your own ricotta, with three things being constant: whole milk, salt and some kind of acid.  We went with a version from the website “Master Class“, with, of course, a few tweaks from our in-house Chef, our very own Master.  This recipe calls for citric acid, instead of the more traditional vinegar or lemon juice, with the latter being an option they include as well.

It was not hard.  You heat the milk to about 180 degrees, some say higher, none say lower, add the acid, stir as it “curdles”, strain it through cheesecloth, let it drain and voila, fresh ricotta cheese!  The MC recipe adds a little heavy cream to the finished product, which makes (obviously) a creamier result. Other recipes mix milk and cream together in the beginning of the process.  That’s what I would do next time.

We had some commercial ricotta, so we tried the two side-by-side, and it was interesting how different they were.  The Bel Gioioso had a more ‘cheese’ flavor, while our homemade version tasted ‘milkier’, most likely due to the after-addition of heavy cream.  Textures were very similar, both creamy and spreadable.  Of course there is also economics to consider – our half gallon of milk plus about half cup of cream yielded 1 pint of cheese, which isn’t too bad, considering that #1 the milk was not going to last much longer, and #2 you got some delicious, freshly made cheese. The left over whey is not thrown out either; you can use it in soups, breads, pancakes, even potatoes, as a replacement for water in your recipe.

It was ridiculously easy, and we were so glad we didn’t lose the milk!  Spread on a crouton with a little sea salt and black pepper, very happy we didn’t lose the milk!

 

 

 

 

Who Knew?

When we realized in March that we would most likely not be able to honor our dinner events for the foreseeable future – basically the lifeblood of our business – we were pretty concerned about what that would mean for our bottom line.  We figured, well, we’ll set up a Market Menu – the Market being the lackluster little sister to the Dinners – that might appeal to the stay-at-home nature of life at the moment, not to mention the lack of restaurants to go to.  Kevin has the skills to make restaurant quality meals that our customers could easily reheat or finish in the oven at home.  The first week, after reopening the first of April, we sold out of practically everything on the menu. Well, we thought, we’ve been closed for a month, there’s some pent up demand.  The second week of the same response, we thought, well, it’s Easter, people want something special.  The third week, the same fantastic response.  It is just wonderful.  We thank you.

Kevin starts planning the menu on Saturday, starts ordering on Monday and starts cooking on Tuesday.  He might be putting in the hours, but in some ways he finds this less work than doing the dinners. And of course right now he doesn’t have to work on Friday or Saturday nights.  But also I guess it’s sort of the theory that if you’re going to make two you might as well make two dozen?   So more “bulk” cooking.  At this point, I think it would be fair to say we are transitioning okay in this new economy, with sort of a flip in the business model holding us up.  Something else to be grateful for these days.

Who knew?

The HighLight of meals at home this week was pizza on Saturday night.  In the past, we’ve rigged up a pizza “oven” in the fire pit, using old kiln shelves.  However, those fragile things did not last long, so it’s been awhile since we’ve had Pizza Night.  But the desire is still there, so, on Saturday, we tried it in the Big Green Egg.  Big Success!

This next topic has nothing to do with food or cooking but concerns personal hygiene, an equally hot topic in this pandemic era.  Now is the time to conduct an experiment on your hair. Stop washing your hair.  Stop using shampoo and conditioner.  I am telling you, I have not washed my hair in almost one year.  Definitely 10 months for sure.  No shampoo, no conditioner.  Just a hot water rinse in the shower a couple times a week.  If you are going to be shut in the house for a few more weeks, give it a try.  As they say, what have you got to lose?  Save money on shampoo; stop putting chemicals down the drain into the aquifer.  Here’s what my hair looks like:

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Of course, I’ve never been real fussy about my hair – long or short, that was about the level of my decisions.  Gray is gray.  But does that look like hair that hasn’t seen a lick of shampoo in over 10 months??  I can honestly say, it has never felt healthier.  It’s amazing.

Another who knew!

Wine has also been going out our door since the ShutDown began, which is also very  helpful.  Rosé season is beginning and again I am on a quest to try to stock a variety of styles.  It always seems like, at the end of the day, all of our rosés taste the same.   Part of the problem is our wine program tries to focus on “value” wines, and some of the more full-bodied rosés, like Tavels, are on the pricier side.  That being said, even if many rosés are light in body and pale in color, they have some amazingly different flavor profiles.  We tasted two this week – the Klinker Brick from California, and a German pinot noir rosé from Villa Wolf.  Both very light in color, but both full of fruit flavor.  The Klinker Brick was peach! and strawberry!  while the Wolf was sour cherry, with some kind of candy sweet flavor in the opening taste that became tart sweet in the next second.  Both really good, both what we want in a rosé.  As more of the 2019 vintages are released, we will continue to serve our customers by tasting as many as we can in order to have a mixed bag of choices for pink this summer.  It’s the least we can do.

A final note: we are so very appreciative of the support from our customers and their diligence at keeping us safe.  It is what is going to get us through this Global Crisis, and just one more thing that makes life in Kent County so special.  We are very happy to live here.

And, have you noticed, you don’t hear that steady hum of traffic anymore, coming from 301?  It’s back to being as quiet as it was when we were kids.  Of course, we do sort of want to hear that traffic sound, because that would be a sign of things being back to “normal”…

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Comegys Road

 

Weekly UpDate

We had a discussion about the masks.  The Governor’s mandate advises customers and employees to wear masks in public and frankly, I was a little bit conflicted.  I understand the mentality behind it, 100%, but I wasn’t sure how our customers would react, seeing us in masks in our own place of business.  I didn’t want them to think we were not doing every thing we could to keep them safe – all the sanitizing, the safe distance apart, the PL pick-ups, the reader velcroed to the tile – which wearing a mask might negate.  But finally a customer knocked some sense into me.  He said “I am wearing a mask to keep you safe.  You wear one to keep me safe.”

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Kevin’s been wearing a face covering for awhile now, to every trip to the grocery store, to Sudlersville Meat Locker, to the hardware store.  I haven’t been wearing a mask because I haven’t been going anywhere, except work.  But I had the wherewithal – a balaclava – so that is the plan going forward: we will greet you in your mask wearing ours.  It’s another new normal.

Food, of course, has been front and center in our small little world, as usual.  A little less cooking at home this week, because Kevin has been in the Kitchen at the Market 3 nights out of 5.  And when I am left to my own devices, there is very little cooking going on.  However, Saturday night was a celebration of the end of week 2 of Business-Not-As-Usual, and dinner was the event.  In the BeforeTimes, martini night was on Sunday, since that was our day off.  Now, however, since we are not working on Saturday night so much, that has become the new Martini Night.  And in case you are wondering: gin, sometimes up, sometimes on the rocks, 3:1 with a twist.  And generally shaken when it’s up.

BTW, I just finished my portion of said chicken a few minutes ago…

Spinach was a focus this week, along with Godfrey’s asparagus.  Owings and Sons gives Kevin a run of the spinach field – I guess they figure how much damage can one man and a pair of scissors do to acres and acres of spinach? – and he came home with supper: a recreation of one of my favorite meals from Luisa’s – pasta with spinach in a creamy sauce.  It was almost as good as Vinny and Mimmo make.

((I suppose it is a bit contradictory that while we are being so wonderfully supported by our customers ordering carry-out food, we have not done the same for our fellow members of the local Hospitality Industry.  Part of the reason, of course, is that we have an in-house chef.  A large part, I suppose.  But also, for us, going out to a restaurant was (is!) more about eating out as it was/is just simply being out.  We like sitting at the bar, chatting with the tender, chatting with the regulars, chatting with the boss, relaxing with some wine and oh, yeah, dinner too!  The social aspect of it was almost more important than the eating part.  So, since we can’t sit at any bars and talk with anyone, we have not done our share in supporting those who are doing everything they can do to keep their businesses afloat.  We are lucky, we know that, and we will do everything we can to support them when there is some modicum of normalcy again.))

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Lunch on Tuesday was an open faced spinach sandwich, which was the inspiration for the sandwich on this week’s Market Menu.

Spinach lasagna was a huge sell-out, with nary a scrap left over for the Chef and his dishwasher.  The same could be said for the sandwich, pictured before its layer of cheese on top.  I did get some of the asparagus soup.  And a tiny taste of the chocolate cheesecake.  However, don’t go feeling all sorry for me, heck, here’s what dinner was like last night:

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I’m sitting there at the counter, drinking wine, while dinner is plated.  The results?  Homemade gorditas, stuffed with spinach and cheese, served with refried beans (my job!), avocado, cilantro (still cutting from overwintered crop in the garden) and pickled onion.  The kitchen might have been in a bit of a mess when all was ready, but, small price to pay.

This crazy, crazy time is probably only going to get crazier.  We are completely aware of how fortunate we are, in the midst of everything that is going on all around the world.  We have our jobs, we have our home, we have our health.  And we have our little dog – Joey – who constantly reminds us that life goes on.  She is a survivor, and manages to not only give us great comfort but a lot of laughs too.  There is nothing better that watching a dog race around the yard, chasing a toy, barking with glee.  If that doesn’t make you laugh, nothing will.  She has three sets of toys, which change up every now and then, with the one set getting washed while the “new” set gets doled out as warranted.  Supposedly this keeps her from getting bored with the toys, and it seems to work.  Her most recent set of cleaned toys sat on the dining room table for a few days, just because they alone brought a smile.

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Spring is going to come eventually.  Nature doesn’t know about the pandemic.  Turkeys are calling, osprey are nesting, turtles are crossing the road.   Maybe a walk out to Sassafras Wildlife Area will be in the cards this weekend.  Or a bike ride around the farms of Kennedyville.  Whatever road you travel, make it a good one.  And perhaps dinner will be your reward.  It’s the little things that count, right?

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Has Anyone Worried About the Covid-15?

Remember the “Freshman 15”?  I don’t know about any of you, but I was a victim of that experience, back in 1973.  And I think it took about 40 years to lose it.  With all of this eating at home and not working on Friday and Saturday nights like we were doing back in the olden days, ie. two months ago, I am watching the scale carefully.  So far so okay, but I am glad I don’t have my normal stash of candy in the usual hidden locations right now…although I sorely want some!

Kevin has been working very hard in the Market since we re-opened on April 2.  He’s probably been cooking just as much as ever, staying here pretty late on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, to be ready when the Market opens on Thursdays.  The Menu email goes out on Tuesday and this week the orders started coming in within minutes of the email going out.  Two cases of chickens – gone.  38 crabcakes.  Over 4 dozen orders for the vegetable gratin.  25 requests for the lamb medallions. Two chocolate cakes.  He’s been a very busy chef and still manages to cook dinner for us, when he is there to eat it anyway.  I have been helping with the dishes at least…

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I did manage to make a Caesar salad the other night, which was fortified with our last ripe avocado, some roasted poblano peppers, pickled onions and sided with some cheese filled gorditos.  You can tell that I made the salad by the fact that the avocados are cut so raggedly – they would have been much more uniform and laid out much prettier if the Chef had performed that duty.  What can I say?

Last night it was risotto (again), with clams this time.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  Tonight is Saturday night, we’re off (again) and the plan is to have an all-day fire on the patio and build up some nice coals for roasting a chicken.  And maybe eat this:

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Ha!  the first stalk from one of our two “wild” beds.  However, I understand that Godfrey’s is cutting asparagus now, and offering “curbside” pickup, if you prefer, as well as being open at the stand.  Nothing says Spring like asparagus, in my mind, and nothing says asparagus like Godfrey’s, since my big bed is over and done with this year.

This situation with the Chestertown Farmer’s Market is an ongoing controversy.  Apparently the switch in locations – from Fountain Park to Wilmer – will not meet the Health Department’s requirement that Vendors space their stalls 30 yards apart.  Some of the Farmers have set up stands on their own property – like Coops and Crops outside of Kennedyville – or are bringing their products to the Guernsey Depot on High Street in Chestertown.  But I imagine there are some crops that are not being brought anywhere, and that is a sad state of affairs for the Farmer and the Consumer.  I’m sure the Farm Market Committee will figure it out, maybe just say heck with being the “Chestertown Farmers Market” for now and become the “Kent County Farmers Market” and set up shop in the Parking Lot at the High School in Worton.  If there isn’t plenty of room there for vendors to maintain their distance, then there isn’t enough room  anywhere.  And the customer can just stay in their car, drive from vendor to vendor and have “curbside” service.

Everyone is learning as they go.  I know we are.  And I have a feeling some of this “new” normal will become normal eventually.  For instance, washing your hands. Of course everyone has always known how important it is to wash their hands – you see it posted in every public restroom in the country – but did we all do it after every trip to the grocery or hardware store, as a matter of course?  Maybe there will be fewer colds, let alone pandemics.  I don’t want to give up hugging or even handshakes, so cleaner hands would help there too, no?  I’m not sure I’ll get used to the masks, but wearing one in public if you have a cold, maybe that would be a good idea in the days to come?

Many, many things are being shaken up, besides public health issues, and we all are going to have a lot to grapple with in the weeks and months ahead.  A lot of suffering going on.  We are very lucky so far.  If my biggest problem, when this is all over, is that I’ll have to go on a diet, well, that will be just fine.

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