Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Post Visits The Market

Well, the Washington Post's writers managed to find their way all the way to the provinces and come to the Baltimore Farmers' Market. In their usual back-handed way, they said that it was good and cheap... something we all knew already.

You can find the two stories here and here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Market Report - July 27

WOW, the market was really crowded this morning, even when we got there at 8:00. The peaches are really coming in and there's a funny variety, which I don't really understand, called Donut Peaches. They're small and flat. I'd rather have big round and juicy yellow peaches - and I bought a pint.

We picked up a dozen ears of Ambrosia corn, which has both yellow and white kernels. I will probably roast it in the husk again.

The cherry and cocktail tomatoes are out in full force, although the regular ones aren't quite here yet. I am so interested in the wide variety of colours and shapes of the small ones, from very dark purple to pale green and from small marble sized to pear-shaped.

Julie picked up some smoked fish from Metropol, which has a location in Belvedere Square. I had picked up some smoked chicken curry salad from there the other day, and the had the most gorgeous artichoke heart tart!
The most stunning thing this week were the "yard long" beans in green and purple. Allegedly, they have a radish taste.See you next week!

Monday, July 21, 2008

mmmm. chocolate

My twin niece and nephew celebrated their first birthday yesterday. Although I didn't get the obligatory icing-smeared face photo, I did take a picture of the lucious chocolate cupcakes their mother made. Thanks C&G2!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Market Report - July 20

The market is in full swing now, and all of the fresh fruits are on the stalls. I got some of the last raspberries until fall, and also some black currants. They are not the commercial crop here in the US that they are in the UK, because they carry a blight which isn't harmful to them, but is to White Pine (Pinus strobus) that is a commercial crop. I adore black currents but anything made with them is nearly impossible to find here. So, I dried them in the oven and will probably make muffins or something like that with them.

Again this week, they had the stunning white eggplants. They have the most gorgeous white skin. Kitchenography bought two, so let's see what she does with them.

I am sure I could find something delicious to do with the apricots, like an upside-down cake. But since I don't really cook...

I think that this is called a globe amaranth. I love how you can see tiny blooms inside the main flower.

Here's the sunflower photo of the week. I think this is a more fall or harvest season looking one, than full summer.

See you at the Market next week! Let's think about doing a Baltimore Food Blogger Meet-Up at the Market before the summer's gone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tiny Town

As I mentioned, I was in Howard County for a meeting and had a little time before I went to meet my sister at lunch. I stopped by Columbia Mall to pick up a present for Bird, and found to my delight, that there is a Williams-Sonoma there. Could I have really not noticed it before? Was that at all possible? I pride myself on my powers of observation. Turns out they just opened June 1.

As I was checking out, I started chatting with the other woman in line. We both said we lived much closer to the Cross Keys store and talked about the Country Club selling its land. Chat, chat, chat. Something flickered across my mind, but was lost.

Today, I was commenting on the relatively new Baltimore Blog, B-More Sweet, which you should go read (and then come back here). I commented and then the little thought returned. "Were you at Williams-Sonoma in Columbia Mall the other day?" I asked. Seconds later an e-mail came, "I was!!!! Was that you I was talking to?? OMG!!!!!!!"

Even stranger, before I knew it was B-More Sweet, I saw her again today and thought, I recognize her... I just spoke to her recently... Who is she?

They don't call Baltimore Tiny Town for nothing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Suzy's Soba

Wednesday was one of those days... a morning meeting in Howard County, lunch with my sister, back into the city for a much-needed haircut, dinner with the Blonde & Redhead and finally, a late evening glass of wine with P&B.

My two best friends and I, collectively known as the Blonde, the Brunette and the Redhead (BBR), chose Suzy's Soba for several reasons, not the least of which were the good food and the chance to eat outside. The place was virtually empty when we got there at 7:00, and Suzy put the three of us at a very small table, which would have seated two comfortably. There was an empty table for four, so we moved there. A little while later, she came out and scolded us for moving, saying she had a reservation for it. So we moved to where we originally were.

I always order the exact same thing when I am at Suzy's - the Ginger Lime Chicken. It's a light salad, with poached chicken, sliced mangos and avacado and a green-goddess-type dressing and some dried cranberries. B&R both ordered the salmon, which was lightly spiced and came served with rice and some sauteed spinach.

The Blonde had a glass of white wine while she was waiting for the other two of us to arrive and then we each had a glass of Suzy's limeade and ginger-limeade. We were never offered desserts, but were asked summarily if we were finished, and then the bill of $73.00 was presented.

As we went to leave, at about 8:30, the "reserved" table had never been taken, and the rest of the restaurant was totally empty. There were two other tables on the deck, but that was it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Iron Bridge Wine Company

Finally, after 11 months, I took my sister, Bird, out to celebrate her birthday. We've been trying to do it for ages, but it's just not worked out. Since I was in Columbia for a meeting this morning, we decided to meet someplace out there and I chose the Iron Bridge Wine Company. Chef friends Cat & Dog had mixed reviews, but we decided to go anyway.
Iron Bridge is on Route 108, a rather schitzophrenic strech of road in Howard County. There are farms and fields on one side of the road, and houses and businesses on the other. Next to Iron Bridge, there's an old abandoned house.

I got there a little before Bird, and the waitress tried to put me at a table that was three inches from the one next to it, even though there were other available tables. I balked at that, and she said I could wait until another table opened. The place was crowded from when we got there at 12:30 until we left at 2:30. It would have been nice if they opened the other side of the dining room to give people some space.

After checking to make sure that nothing she wanted had onions in it, Bird ordered the Sun Dried Tomato and Toasted Almond Chicken Salad on a croissant with herbed Yukon Gold potato wedges. I got a Grilled Wagyu Beef Burger on Kaiser Roll with Citrus Scented Orzo Salad. I'd never seen the multi-coloured orzo, but since it's a pasta, I am sure you can add anything to colour it. It was quite good and very fresh tasting.
Both were very good, but it took about 40 minutes between the time we ordered and the time they were served. Of course, we had to have dessert, and chose a creme brulee, a favourite of both of ours. It was slightly different from the usual, as it had a chocolate ganache on the bottom, which was a nice counterpoint to the creme. I had requested that they bring it with a candle and they did. I did like Iron Bridge, but it shouldn't have taken two hours for lunch. It wasn't that we were taking our time, it was that the kitchen was very slow. We were next to a table of four women who looked like they must have worked at the same office, and their waiter made several mistakes, forgetting to put in orders, bringing the wrong drink, etc.

I think I am with Cat & Dog - it's a mixed review.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Market Report - July 13

Today, the market was all about blues and greens. There were loads of gorgeous blueberries. Even though I know they're one of nature's best foods, I am not wild about them. All of the fruit stalls had tons and it looks like we will have them for another week or two.
Blue hydrangeas are among my most favourite flowers, and the cool, wet spring we had has made this a banner year for them. I bought a small bunch for way too much money and they never completely recovered from sitting in the car while we were at breakfast and then the Book Thing.

There were some amazing plums, and I think they're Methley plums. They're very small, less than two inches, and just the right mixture of sweet and tart.

As always, I love the varieties of sunflowers. This week, they had some of the ones with pale centers and the mille-petaled Teddy Bear variety. There was also something that I think is called "love lays dying" not exactly a warm and fuzzy name, but the flowers are wonderful. I am wondering how they dry! ***Kitchenography informs me that this is called "love lies bleeding", which isn't much better!I got some pictures of the beautiful wheat grass they make drinks from, even though I am not likely to try it.

Finally, the wonderful white eggplants are in! Those, along with their model-thin purple cousins were in abundance this week.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Market Report - July 6

I didn't get many pictures at the market because I was too busy concentrating on drinking a cup of Zeke's coffee and socializing. The cherries this week looked a lot better than last week and tasted loads better, too. There are still raspberries, which I bought to share with my mother. Apricots and early peaches are in, too. Friends we had dinner with on Sunday had gotten corn, which was small but good.

This week I was attracted by the mushrooms and their interesting shapes.
I also got a shot of what I thought was lavender, but is actually Russian Sage.
I bought a bunch and it's got a great but light scent. If you like the look of this, check out the corner of Charles Street and Bellona Avenue, heading down towards GBMC. The median's planted with it and it looks stunning. I may have mentioned that I like to have my fruit and veg in their original colours, so these purple and yellow peppers were a little off-putting, but fun!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I've cooked more in the past two days than in the last month, but both things I cooked were simple. First up was Mark Bittman's pasta, pesto and shrimp that was in the New York Times on Wednesday. It was beyond easy, and quite delicious.

For a picnic today, I made a rhubarb upside down cake. My family grew up eating rhubarb in numerous ways, including in pies, stewed with strawberries, and in fools. I cheated a lot with this cake and made it with a mix, but it turned out really well.

First, I caramelized sugar and butter, and spread it in the bottom of a well-greased cake pan. Greasing the pan is critical, because the sugar will stick like glue when it cools. I added a layer of frozen rhubarb I had gotten at the Farmers' Market earlier this spring. I made a cake from a Trader Joe's vanilla cake mix and poured it over the sugar and rhubarb. Baked for 45 minutes. Waited for five more and then turned it out onto a plate. The bits that stayed in the pan were still viscous enough to spread on the patches. I hope that my siblings like it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mark Bittman's 101 for Summer

Today's New York Time's food section has another part of my favourite series: Mark Bittman's 101 Easy Things. Today, he features 101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics. Among the goodies he suggests are:
  • PESTO CHICKEN ROLLS Season and grill chicken cutlets. Brush lavash or any other wrap-type bread with pesto; layer with the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula; roll up and cut on the bias.

  • Use a spoon or melon baller to make equal size pieces of watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, or, I don’t know, Charentais. Mix together and sprinkle with lemon juice and salt or (better still) chili, sugar, salt and lime.

  • Cook fusilli or other cut pasta; rinse in cool water, but don’t bother to chill. Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Good with olives, too.) Do not call this pasta salad, because pasta salad is no good, and this is!
Bittman has a great sense of humour and these simple recipes (almost no measurements are given) will make you want to pack up a picnic basket and find a great place to go!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Market Report - June 27

The cherries are in and there were three kinds, regular bing cherries, sour cherries and the yellow cherries. I am not a big fan of foods that aren't the proper colour like yellow cherries, maroon tomatoes and green cauliflower.
I did get some of the "real" cherries and although they were small, they had a great flavour. It's usually all I can do to eat them without getting just a small drop of juice on me and ruining a shirt!
The beautiful squash and zucchini blossoms continued this week. I remember having stuffed zucchini blossoms someplace. Delish! There were also some of the patty-pan squashes and the funny little round zucchinis.
As always, the flowers were out in full force. Still lots of hanging baskets and market packs to plant, too. I am a huge fan of sunflowers, even though these still are NOT local. There were some dianthus, too. I love the blue-purple shades of them.
Finally, Gardener's Gourmet had gorgeous salad greens coloured by nasturtiums. These flowers add a nice peppery note to salads.