Maryland is a Hopping Place!

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In the past week we’ve had an earthquake AND a hurricane. I don’t know about you, but that’s a little too hopping for me! This is the second earthquake we’ve had in a year or so, though this one was more what I always imagined (and feared) a quake to be. We get hurricanes and tropical storms from time to time, so it’s not unheard of, but it was a bit nerve wracking to say the least, especially within mere days of each other.

The earthquake flat out terrified Alexis. Jamison was working away at his desk, I was working out and she was doing her own little thing upstairs by herself. I felt the hairs on the back of my arm stand up and I was confused because I couldn’t figure out why exactly that was happening. As I was studying my arm I felt/heard a small rumbling and thought Alexis was jumping around upstairs so I sent Jamison up to check on her since he was closer. I decided to go examine the issue too and was halfway across the floor when the house started to shake in earnest. We’re talking full out walls moving, floor bouncing, light fixtures swaying, pictures moving around on the wall quake here. Surprisingly I wasn’t scared. The last one freaked me out, but this one I was calm. I was however worried about Alexis because I knew this wasn’t going to be her cup of tea. I called to Jamison and told him to keep going to get to Alexis and he did.

After our little quake it took about an hour or so to calm Alexis down…She was that scared. She is still a little twitchy about the whole thing. She asks me several times a day if I can feel the floor moving or the ground shaking because she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. I keep assuring her she’s fine, and while I can’t promise her that we won’t have another earthquake, she needs to stop worrying about it so much because I’ll take care of her. She gives me one of those looks that clearly indicates she thinks I’m nuts, but she settles down and goes on about her day.

In Lex’s mind earthquake equals unmitigated horror. Bring on a hurricane/tropical storm however and after a little explanation of what is happening and how it works the kid kicks in to all out explore mode!

At first she was uneasy about the storm especially when I started moving things in to the garage from the patio so they wouldn’t blow around. I quipped on Twitter that I wouldn’t resent battening down the hatches as much if I had an ocean view to go along with the trouble, but Alexis wasn’t quite sure why I was moving all of the things. I kept telling her we were far enough inland that we would get a lot of wind and rain, but the big stuff would happen on the coast, but that we still needed to be prepared just in case.

On Saturday she wasn’t too sure about this, equating hurricanes with tornadoes, especially as the wind picked up. She thought we were going to have to sit in the basement all day Saturday in to early Sunday morning. She kept fretting, something that Alexis is exceptionally good at much like her father, but finally she calmed. Saturday afternoon, after reassuring her quite a bit, Jamison finally showed her a weather map and explained how the storm worked. Once he was finished with that I took her outside and showed her how the clouds were swirling. From that point on she was hooked!

As you can see in the picture above she’s a happy little “weather girl” with her head covered from the sprinkles. She decided to stay on the patio for a while and I was ok with that. All we had was a lot of wind at that point so I let her be and explore.

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She ran around on the patio testing the wind speed and direction for about an hour. I finally had to make her come in and put on rain boots when it started raining and then she headed back out with her wellies, sweater and umbrella and kept up her little exploration.

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We never had any thunder or lightening, just wind and rain. When it got dark I made her come in for good. She was disappointed that the storm passed during the night. By the time she got up on Sunday morning we had a few sprinkles and light wind. The worst of Irene had passed on up the coast to wreak her havoc there. Luckily we were spared any damage despite the wind being a little fierce here and there.

I love that Alexis looks at all this stuff as a learning opportunity and it amuses me that she seems as drawn to the ocean, its power and all things aquatic just as I am. I’ve sat through Isabel back in 2003 when we lived closer to the Chesapeake Bay and that was enough for me, but the experience is there. Alexis doesn’t remember that storm, or the tropical storm that blew through a few years ago either, but I have a feeling she’ll remember Irene for a while and if not I’ll be happy to share the the pictures with her and tell her about her windy/rainy adventures when she gets older.

She is so my child.

Havre de Grace, Maryland

Today we popped over to Havre de Grace, MD to celebrate my upcoming birthday. I have plans on Monday with a friend that I’ll tell you about later, but today I really, really wanted to get close to the Bay because I really miss spending time near the water. We ate lunch at Tidewater Grille, Alexis rode a horse and we walked around the promenade around the Concord Point Lighthouse. On the way home we stopped at IKEA and I had forgotten how fabulous that place is! It was a really, really all around great day! I love days like this!

I hope you all had a fabulous Saturday too.

Havre de Grace, MD

Concord Point Lighthouse, Havre de Grace, MD

Concord Point Lighthouse, Havre de Grace, MD

Geese, Havre de Grace, MD

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crab Cakes

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes

With the Chesapeake Bay right in our backyard, Maryland is sort of the home of the crabcake. Sometimes though those crabcakes get really heavy because they are either pan or deep fried. A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making a baked version and this is what resulted. Everyone I’ve ever served them to that is a crab cake fan has loved them!

Overall I have to say that I like my crab cakes a little lighter. You still have all the flavors that meld so perfectly together, but they are a little less heavy and a whole lot less greasy! Who says you can’t have your “crab” and eat it too…(Yes I went there! ;oP)

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What You’ll Need:
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: I usually use 1/2 a red and 1/2 a yellow bell pepper. You can use one pepper of any color or mix it up. It’s your choice.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of whole grain bread crumbs (Note: You want unseasoned for this dish. If you can’t find whole grain then regular bread crumbs will work too or even panko.)
2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: I prefer Old Bay, but any seafood seasoning will work.)
16 ounces of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: You can use lump, backfin, claw, whatever you can find. Artificial crab will not work for this.)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Peppers and Onions

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onion and bell pepper with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Peppers and Onions Cooking

In a large bowl mix bread crumbs and Old Bay Seasoning until completely mixed. Stir in cooked onions/peppers and crab meat and mix until incorporated. Add eggs to bind together the mixture and then it’s time to form the cakes.

I like to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make the cakes. Spray the cup with non-stick spray and then dip it into the bowl with the crab cake filling. Mash the mixture into the cup to give it good shape:

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Ready to Put In the Baking Dish

Then turn the cup over and dump the cake into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Ready to Bake

Repeat this process until you run out of the crab mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes about a dozen crab cakes.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: The Inside

Notes: These crab cakes freeze beautifully. Freeze them fully cooked and then thaw and reheat and you are set to go! You can serve them all by themselves or pair them with some dill tartar sauce.

Dianne’s Maryland Crab Soup

Maryland Crab Soup

I had intended to do a Halloween themed recipe for today, but it just didn’t come together. So you’ll have to settle for Maryland Crab Soup instead. Happy Halloween to all you out there that celebrate the spooky day and especially to my best friend Darlene, since it’s her favorite holiday!

Now let’s talk some soup!

I love crab. I’ll readily admit though when I think of eating crab I think of crab cakes or crab legs or a crab boil or even deviled crabs, well before I think of Maryland Crab Soup. In fact since I moved to Maryland in 1999 I’ve had Maryland Crab Soup exactly once at a restaurant out on Tilghman Island called Harrison’s Chesapeake House and I instantly fell in love. Despite that fact I still hadn’t had it since then, even though I’ve been back to the Chesapeake House itself several times since then. That however was about to change.

A while back I picked up some fresh Maryland crab meat and I knew I wanted to make some soup this go around and the result was fabulous! This soup is tomomatoey, spicy and oh so lovely! If you like Maryland Crab Soup, then give my version a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you prefer spicy, less if you don’t.)
2 – 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1- 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen peas (Note: Normally lima beans are used for MCS, but I didn’t have any on hand since Miss G tends to adore them and go through them quickly, so I went with peas instead.)
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen corn kernels
2 cups of water
1 pound of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: No matter how well you do this, inevitably some shells might make it into the soup.)

In a large stock pot saute onions and potatoes with a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender and both onions and potatoes are slightly browned.

Next add Old Bay Seasoning and stir to coat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, frozen peas and frozen corn, along with water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Once potatoes are tender add crab and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.

Notes: This soup is extremely easy to make and has a bit of a wow factor to it too. It is also very healthy, so that is always an added plus. You could use lima beans in place of the peas as I mentioned above.

South Mountain Creamery Farm Festival

Field

This morning we ventured over to Middletown, Maryland to visit South Mountain Creamery, who was having a family farm festival today! We’re customers of the creamery and I thought it would be fun to go over and see their operation in action. I’m all about seeing where your food comes from!

South Mountain Creamery Store, Middletown Maryland

The festival is today from 10-5 and then again tomorrow from 12-5 as well. You can see cows, goats, adult turkeys, baby turkeys, baby chickens, baby ducks, bunnies, honey bees and so much more! They have booths set up with food to enjoy and they have a store on site so you can try their wares. You can go on a hayride, play in rocks and most importantly (at least from Alexis’ point of view) you can pet a bunch of animals! It was really a fun and if you are in the Baltimore/DC Metro area then you should most definitely stop by!

And now for some more pictures!

This calf wanted to give Alexis a kiss:

Cow Kiss

It looks like he (or she) got her, but they didn’t.

Much to Alexis’ joy she got to pet some calves!

Pet the Calf

And she also got to pet some bunnies too:

Pet the Bunnies

We took a short hayride up the road and through one of the fields so I shot a picture from the back of the wagon.

Farm

They had some baby chicks and turkeys too.

Chicks and Baby Turkeys

They also had a duckling, but he was still in the incubator. They brought him out for a moment and let Alexis touch him, but I didn’t get a shot of that as I have a thing for ducks and was too busy ooing and ahhing over how adorable he was and how soft he was because well who can resist a baby duckling?

And last but not least they had a window box beehive so you could see inside.

Honey Bees

When I pointed out the queen to Alexis she told me “That can’t be the queen…Where’s her crown?” Yes all queens have crowns apparently. I must remember that for future reference. The lady standing next to us thought that was hilarious. That’s my child…The laugh riot! 😉

I also picked up a couple of Carbon tomato plants, which is a black tomato variety, as well as a couple of Cherokee purple plants. They are both heirloom varieties. I was also able to get a chocolate mint plant. I’ve always wanted to try chocolate mint, but had never located it before so I was beyond thrilled to find they had plants!

So that was our morning/early afternoon. We have had a very fun, very educational day so far and now we’re off the the local nursery! How did you spend your day! 😉