Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook



I have been saying for a long time and thinking even longer, that we need to get folks cooking again and understanding the food from their farmers market or CSA.

Whole Foods Market's 'Let's Get Cooking' Launch is a much needed effort in the right direction. Check it out.  ...good to know that the pilot store in Rockville is right here in our Mid-Atlantic region. Maybe Annapolis is next? However,  Homestead Gardens has been moving more and more towards edibles and growing your own food or purchasing food at their locations from local sources for years.

The focus of getting cooking will be in a newly designed, expanded bulk aisle complete with a food coach. (Does this fit all of the new social marketing/trendy patterns?) I explored further and looked at some of the inspiration guiding this  movement. One motivational force is Nigel Slater and his new book Appetite, In the introduction the English chef says it all.

The header is entitled "WHY COOK?":“As I have said, you don’t have to cook. You can get through life perfectly comfortably without lifting so much as a wooden spoon. Fine. Do that. What I want to say is that if you do decide to go through life without cooking, you are missing something very, very special. You are losing out on one of the greatest pleasures you can have with your clothes on. Cooking can be passionate, creative, life enhancing, uplifting, satisfying, and downright exhilarating as anything else you can do with your life. Feeling, sniffing, chopping, sizzling, grilling, frying, roasting, baking, tasting, liking, suckling, biting, savoring, and swallowing food are pleasures that would, to put it mildly, be a crime to miss out on.”

When you navigate Nigel's website, make sure to check out the Garden page, which is written as an annual garden journal. Brilliant!

Some of the Homestead Gardens’ highlights of last weekends Edibles:





Mike McGrath blew in from Philadelphia on a strong storm with 5 minutes to spare before ‘showtime’. Not phased at all, he dug right in asking how many of us are eating from our gardens right now in mid-April. Many of us raised our hands to prove we know that it is early lettuce season. Mike was pleased and went on to discuss the colors that abound with the young lettuces which are mega nutrients. He went on to discuss the value of eating bright naturally colored foods. As I’ve been teaching for years-Eat the Rainbow.

Spring peas were another favorite veggie topic from Mike. He shared his sprouting tip: take the seeds-whether spring peas, sugar snaps or sno peas and wrap in damp (not sopping) paper towels. Place in a zippie plastic bag, but DO NOT seal. Let rest for a couple of days in a warmish spot in the house. When you unwrap, you will see little sprouts waiting to go into your prepped soil.

Talking as a plant might be saying, Mike shared some his other gems on the edible garden:

  • Do all of your prep work with vigor in the spring when you are just itching to get outside; thus your summer garden should be hassle-free.
  • Never plant in the morn as those tender plants would have to adjust to the earth during the intense sunlight and heat of the day.
  • The famous egg shell tip: Use a dozen dried eggshells, crumble to a fine texture and place in the bottom of the hole for added calcium for your tomato plant.
  • Pinch off the lower leaves from your small tomato plant and plant the seedling deep so that the soil is level with the remaining low leaves.
  • The leaves of the vegetable and fruit plants are like solar panels-bringing in the sunlight. The leaves also serve to cover and protect the fruit or vegetable from intense sun.


















One of 200 100% grassfed beef sliders

Sunday-Southern Maryland Meats Program, a five-county initiative aimed at promoting local meats gave a neat kick-off event on Sunday complete with Allen Colhoun's beef sliders grilled by another environmentalist, Chef James Barrett (owner of those rooftop beehives) of the Westin Hotel, Annapolis. "We know people are concerned about their food and where it comes from and what the animals are being fed," said Lisa Barge, agriculture, marketing and development manager for the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. Whoopee-folks know now!


Homestead Gardens is one of three locations in the county that will carry meat registered with the program. The meats, from farmers in all five counties, can also be purchased at My Butcher and More, in Annapolis, and at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market, at Riva Road and Harry Truman Parkway.


Allen Colhoun of Ivy Neck Farm in Harwood, has always been environmentally conscious. Allen raises cattle and chickens to sell as meat and began selling beef directly to consumers about four years ago and said there is an increased demand for locally grown, humanely produced meats. "As a culture, we're just coming of age," Colhoun said. "People are paying attention to nutrition - and I think we have a very educated consumer base here."

Mike Smollon, owner of My Butcher and More, spoke about his selection of meats, which he buys directly from Maryland farms that raise grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, lamb and pork. Mike has been a member of Buy Fresh Buy Local Chesapeake for years and is an advocate for the whole "scene'. "I try to buy local products that are healthy, sustainable, that haven't been shipped across the country. I want to bring back the old butcher shop -- the way things used to be." Smollon said he has customers tell him they've cut back on buying meat, both to save money and for health reasons. But when they do buy it, they want to buy the freshest, healthiest meat possible.




Cindy and David Thorne, founders of Zekiah Farms as well as their boys and some other farm participants were part of the panel for Southern Maryland Meat Program

Reviewers comments tell the story of their many products:

Steak so delicious, it will make you cry when you've finished, realizing there is none left.

Picked up a couple of Delmonoco steaks from Zekiah Farms the other day. Two words: Beef Heaven. They were the best steaks I've gotten outside of a good steakhouse.

They were dry aged for two weeks before sold. The cows are grass fed, hormone free and free range. The steaks were not cheap by any means, but if you're looking for un-messed with quality in DIY food, you have to check this place out!

This gal knows when I grilled their maple breakfast sausage for my workshop, it was richly flavored with maple and not overwhelmed with fat.




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