groundbreaking food gardensI hope you have gotten some great produce from your garden this summer. Our garden is beginning to wind down, as yours probably is unless you have made great plans for a fall garden. This is actually a good time to begin thinking about next year’s garden! Now, when your “failures” (no, scratch that) “disappointments” are decomposing in the compost heap, is a good time to record what you would do differently. Do you really want your bean plants that close together? Your carrots that far apart? And what a disappointment that new variety of tomato was! Now, the good variety—let’s save some seeds!

It apparently is a good time to introduce new books on vegetable gardening as well. Here are some shiny new additions to Howard County Library System‘s shelves.

timber guideTimber Press has published several guides to gardening with advice specific to the climates of various parts of the U.S.–the Pacific Northwest, the Mountain States, the Northeast, and, luckily for us, the Southeast. The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast (2013) is by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I was happy to see her association with a seed exchange group since the gardener at my house is looking for advice on saving seeds from the best of our tomatoes. I really like the organization of this book. After a brief introduction to our climate, we have Gardening 101, and a section on garden planning. Following these are chapters for each month, covering “To do this Month,” what to “Plan, Prepare, and Maintain,” what to “Sow and Plant,” and “Fresh Harvest.” Each month is closed with a “Skill Set” project like staking or drip irrigation or starting a compost heap. The final 50 pages are an alphabetical guide to “Edibles A to Z.” There are some gems of advice in here—I want it for my home bookshelf!

Jean-Martin Fortier, in his The Market Gardener: a Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming (2014), demonstrates how a “micro-farm” of only one and a half acres can produce enough to feed 200 families in their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), in Canada, no less! In their 10 years at the business Fortier and his wife have developed some clever techniques and devised special equipment, shared here in clear line drawings. His chapters on pests, starting seeds, fertilizing, and more are enhanced with sidebars giving tips and advice. In spite of the author’s Canadian home-base—cooler by far than our climate—very little of his advice would not be useful in Maryland!

Do you like to browse through magazines to see how other peoples houses look inside? Do you like to see how beautiful their gardens look and long to replicate their successes? Take a look at Niki Jabbour’s Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden (2014). The gardens vary from “Wildlife Friendly” to “Critter Control,” from “Eggs and Everything,” built around a chicken coop, to the “Edible Campus” planted between buildings at McGill University. You won’t find gorgeous photos here, but colored sketches that I find more instructive. There is truly something for every gardener in these 250 pages.

year-round vegetable gardnerNiki Jabbour’s previous book, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener (2011), is a similarly useful guide, especially for the gardener who does not want a break from planting and harvesting. She promises to show “how to grow your own food 365 days a year no matter where you live.”

Josie Jeffery’s new book, The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting, promised great things— “an easy organic way to deter pests, prevent disease, improve flavor, and increase yields in your vegetable garden,” but was a mild disappointment to me. I really liked the short introductory chapters, but got lost trying to use the colored dots to mix and match the strips (three to a page) that represent the central crops, aboveground companions, and belowground companions. Maybe with a little more study I could appreciate it more, but it seemed like too much work. Still it’s a useful directory of plants—and pretty to look at!

Maybe these garden planning books will help you decide to become a year-round gardener—or just a better summer gardener! Good luck!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. Superfoods at Miller. Some foods promote health and longevity better than others. Licensed nutritionist Karen Basinger names these powerhouses and how to best use them. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m. Diabetes Screening & BMI. Free. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Meet with an RN for a glucose blood test, BMI measurement and weight management information. Immediate resu­lts. Fasting eight hours prior recommended.

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Choose Your Pediatrician and Promote Your Newborn’s Health. Free. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn factors to consider and questions to ask when choosing your pediatrician and ways you can promote your newborn’s health. Presented by Dana Wollney, M.D.

Thursday, Oct. 23, 7 to 9 p.m. Get Moving Again: Total Joint Replacement. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Free. Learn about total hip and knee surgery from health care professionals, past patients of our Joint Academy and Richard Kinnard, M.D.

Monday, Oct. 27, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Cost is $55. This course will teach the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).


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pumpkinThe crisp cool temperatures, the gradual appearance of colored hues in the vegetation, and the leaves falling one by one in their choreographed descent, are all signs that autumn is officially upon us.  In addition, there are your traditional celebratory markers of the season’s arrival, such as hayrides, Halloween stuff everywhere, and (of course) pumpkins galore! There are plenty pumpkin patches ready to be explored, pumpkins being sold for carving and decorating, pumpkin drinks, pumpkin deserts, and pumpkin dishes.  Coincidentally, pumpkins begin to ripen in September, which makes them readily available through fall and winter.  And though, we primarily associate pumpkins with Fall and Halloween, we should also begin associating them with healthy eating (if we don’t already).

nutritional healingPumpkins aren’t simply great as porch decorations, or for adding seasonal flavor to your beverage of choice.  Pumpkins are vegetables rich in antioxidants and vitamins (particularly vitamin A), and low in calories.  On October 5, 2014, the Huffington Post published an article titled 8 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin, which notably mentioned some of the many healthy reasons we should all be incorporating more pumpkin into our diet.  The health benefits listed in the article include keeping eyesight sharp, aiding in weight lost, promoting heart health with pumpkin seeds, reducing cancer risk, protecting the skin, boosting one’s mood, post-workout recovery, and boosting the immune system.  Each of these benefits may come as no surprise due to the high level of antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E found in pumpkins.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute website, antioxidants are “chemicals that block the activity of other chemicals known as free radicals.  Free radicals are highly reactive and have the potential to cause damage to cells, including damage that may lead to cancer.”  While the body does naturally produce internal antioxidants known as endogenous antioxidants, it also relies on external antioxidants known as dietary antioxidants found in the foods we eat.

functional foodieBalch’s Prescription for Nutritional Healing touts the importance of vitamin A; as one of the types of dietary antioxidants, which promotes eye health, enhances immunity, maintains and repairs epithelial tissue, and protects against colds and infections, guards against heart disease and stroke, and lowers cholesterol levels.  And in Nix’s The Functional Foodie we learn that some of the many antioxidant carotenoids found in pumpkins include beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  Balch further explains that carotenoids, a class of phytochemicals, are fat-soluble pigments found in yellow, red, green, and orange vegetable and fruits; they have the ability to act as anticancer agents, decrease the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and inhibit heart disease.  One of the most commonly known carotenoids, beta-carotene, can be converted into vitamin A, and is therefore one of the main sources of dietary vitamin A.

Pumpkins are being sold in many places this time of year, and are plentiful in locally grown pumpkin patches right here in Howard County, such as Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, and Gorman Farm.  So whether you make it to a patch or your grocery store, get yourself a pumpkin and start reaping the health benefits that pumpkins have in store.

When Jinelee De Souza isn’t channeling her inner super-heroine at Howard County Library System as an Instructor & Research Specialist, she’s doing so at the gym, during impromptu photoshoots with her bff, and everywhere in between.

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Are you guilty of skipping breakfast in the morning? Did you know there is science to support the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? If you are like me, you answered “yes” to both those questions. Would you say “no” to getting more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc, and iron? Would you say “no” to having lower blood cholesterol levels, better digestive health, and to helping your body regulate insulin levels? Of course not! Together we need to say “yes” to eating breakfast every day – and if you have kids, your kids will be more likely to eat breakfast if you do. If you need more compelling reasons to eat breakfast, read this.

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to make healthy. The next time you are in the grocery store check out the cereal aisle. There are many healthy options. Look for a cereal with more than 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar. Grab a bowl, add some skim milk and fresh fruit, and take just a few minutes to start your day off right.

soup to nutsHoward County Library System has a great collection of cookbooks to help you plan your morning meal. The Mason Jar Soup to Nuts Cookbook by Lonnette Parks is a fun way to get started. In this book you will find recipes for pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola crunch and more. You can make the jar recipes for your family and then make some as gift jars for relatives and friends. The best part is that you can make them ahead of time. I hope this book will inspire you to make your own mason jar creations. You can create your own parfait by layering yogurt, fruit and oats or granola in a mason jar. You can choose any yogurt, but Greek yogurt usually has the most calcium and protein. Oats contain beta-glucan a type of fiber that has been shown to help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Add your favorite fresh or frozen fruit. Bananas have a healthy dose of potassium, an electrolyte that helps lower your blood pressure naturally, and bananas will help keep you feeling full longer. Strawberries and blueberries are rich in antioxidants and are lower in calories than many other fruits. You can make these colorful parfait jars in advance, so all you have to do in the morning is grab one and a spoon. If you take your jar to work you will have to beware of co-workers who follow you with spoons!

hungry girl 300If you would like something hot for breakfast instead, you can try some of the protein-packed, low-calorie hot breakfast egg mugs recipes in Hungry Girl 300 under 300: Breakfast, lunch & Dinner Dishes under 300 Calories by Lisa Lillien. Some of the recipes to try in this book include the Denver Omellette in a Mug, Eggs Bene-Chick Mug, or the All-American Egg Mug. Most can be ready to eat in ten minutes! These recipes use a liquid egg substitute. Eggs are a healthy source of protein and nutrients like Vitamin D. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people with normal cholesterol, limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day. You can read more about the AHA dietary guidelines here.

smoothiesYou will also find a chapter (4) on “no-heat-required” morning meals. How about a Double-O- Strawberry Quickie Kiwi Smoothie? You can make this in five minutes with 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 peeled kiwi, ½ cup fat-free strawberry yogurt, and 1 cup crushed ice. Smoothies are easy to make with little mess. They are great for breakfast on-the-go and are only limited by your imagination and what you have in your refrigerator. For more smoothie ideas try Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Nutrient-Dense Recipes by Julie Morris. Finally, you might want to check out Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon for some delicious seasonal recipes.

Are you hungry now? Are you already thinking about what you can have for breakfast tomorrow? If you are like me, you answered “yes” to both of those questions. Breakfast will give us the energy and fuel we need to get through the day. We are ready to make the commitment to break for breakfast!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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baked goods

Stone House Cakery & Cafe

Because everyone loves dessert!

My husband, Dean, and I have a long line of bakers on both sides of the family, so starting Stone House Cakery & Café was a natural. We actually started the bakery in 2009, out of necessity, after he had an accident and I lost my job. I had to find something to do to keep my sanity.

Everyone seems to be health conscious these days, but sometimes they still want to treat themselves to a delicious dessert. When they do, they want it made with the best and most natural ingredients. That’s what we try to offer at Stone House Cakery & Café with our cakes, pies, sweet breads, cupcakes, jams, jellies, rolls, bars, donuts and brownies. We use unbleached flour with no processing chemicals and pure vanilla in our baked goods. We bake everything fresh every day. If you have a special party, birthday or wedding, we can also make and decorate the cake.

Our business has grown, and we now participate in four farmers markets each week and operate a store-front bakery in Taneytown. We’ve recently hired several employees – one to help with baking, one to make sandwiches and one to decorate cakes for weddings and parties. The sandwiches are something new and we make them out of our own bread and with high quality meat.

I love unusual old recipes and some of ours date back to the 1800s. Our ‘creeping crust’ cobbler came from Dean’s great-grandmother. We changed the name because people didn’t seem to like it, but it came from the way the cobbler is made with the batter on the bottom and fruit on top and the crust creeping up over the sides. Dean’s mom used a family recipe for real minced pie, which isn’t at all like the stuff you buy in a jar. Hers was made from real meat, suet, spices, fruit and lots of liquor. Most people use bourbon but she liked to use port wine. I also have my mom’s recipes for peanut butter fudge and pound cake that came from her great-grandmother. When Dean’s mom passed, she left two huge boxes of recipes that I’m still trying to go through. Sometimes customers tell us about an old family favorite recipe and we’ll try to recreate it.

I hope our business is about more than just selling a product. We feel a commitment to our community and try to support other sustainable farmers, buying our fruit, milk, buttermilk and cream (from grass-fed cows using no hormones) and cage-free eggs from local farms. And we supported the Carroll County Economic Development mentoring program this summer, bringing in three students who wanted to learn about baking. We want to keep the tradition going into the future.

If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, stop by to see Lois at the HCGH Farmers Market on Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m.

Lois Trout is co-owner of the Stone House Cakery & Café.


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Picture by Nils Thingvall (Turbidity) www.turbidwater.comThe Farmers’ Market Chef wants to be “well” and “wise” at the Farmers’ Market—and after I bring my fresh produce home! Luckily, the Glenwood Branch just had a visit from Karen Basinger, an educator with University of Maryland Extension. She taught a class on home food preservation to a group of about 14.

This is a great time of year to buy and enjoy fresh local vegetables and fruits. With good, safe food preservation practices it is possible to enjoy your produce long into the winter months. Karen was here to teach us the why and the how of canning, freezing, and drying. She explained how microorganisms that cause illness—like listeriosis and botulism—can grow if food is stored improperly. And the quality of your food will be compromised if you don’t destroy the enzymes that cause spoilage.

It’s important to use the appropriate preserving method. Low acid foods like green beans and corn require the high temperatures of a pressure canner while high acid foods like pickles can be processed in a boiling water bath. It is important to have the right equipment and to be sure it is in good working condition. At Karen’s office in Ellicott City she can test your pressure canner to assure you it is safe to use.

Maybe you don’t want to heat up your kitchen with the canning process. Freezing veggies and fruits usually requires only a quick dip in boiling water to destroy enzymes and the food is ready to chill and freeze. Be sure to use bags, boxes or wrap that is designed to keep the air out of your frozen food. You don’t want to be disappointed in January!

Drying may be the oldest method of food preservation. With a dehydrator (or your oven if you don’t mind wasting a lot of heat) you can make bright colored, chewy fruit leathers, meat jerky, dried tomatoes, and many other space-saving treats.

This is only an overview—a teaser to make you curious. To learn more, attend some of the University of Maryland Extension “Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It” workshops. The food preservation workshops are offered through the summer—if you miss this year’s watch for announcements about next year’s workshops. You can contact Karen Basinger at kbasinge@umd.edu or call 410-313-1908.

Karen also had a list of “Farmers’ Market Dos and Don’ts” – some of my favorites are:

  • Do bring a cooler with ice to help keep your produce fresh while you run your other errands

  • Do keep control of your kids and pets

  • Do go early in the day

  • Do get to know your vendors

  • Don’t sample anything that isn’t labeled as a sample

  • Don’t pinch, squeeze, drop, or peel anything you aren’t going to buy

  • Don’t buy more than you can use, and

  • Don’t forget you can always come back next week!

See you at the Farmers’ Markets!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


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