Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Wine Source

You know you are in trouble when you are on a first name basis with the folks at your liquor store. But before you go judging too much, know that I buy all of the amenities and gifts for our clients. We promote Maryland wines, Baltimore beers and plus...I have to keep my cabinet stocked with Bombay Saphire for my gimlets and dirty martinis.

This isn't your Daddy's liquor store. I remember the place my Daddy went, when he was still drinking that is, called The Avenue Food and Beverage with a big neon sign summoning peeps to visit across from the Kalamazoo train station. He tells me it is now a parking lot for the McDonald's.

And they didn't sell yummy cheese and dried meats.

If the Wine Source sold milk we'd almost only need to go to one spot. They even have limes at the front desk. Brilliant for the lazy drinker.

They sell cigars and Zeke's Coffee.

And FRESHLY baked bread.

And Maryland wine, which is what I came in for.

The shop is tucked in on Elm Street in the middle of Hampden, Hon.

Carey Williams is one of the people you MUST meet when you frequent the shop. E. and I go in at separate times but she knows us both. We just adore her! She knows what we like, stays within our price range and takes such good care of us. She has great wine tastings and worked with E. on events at his previous work location in Baltimore. She will even take wine back if you don't finish it after an event. Brilliant, wonderful, fabulous Wine Source. You are so smart. And Carey is even a reader of Stone Hill Farm (SHF). She told her Momma about the blog and they want me to teach a canning class next year. I stopped in on Carey's birthday and they shared Caroline's cupcakes with me and gave me one for the road for E. Such a sweetheart.

So thank you Wine Source for just being you. And thank you Carey and Momma Williams for being too sweet for words!!! E. really did get the cupcake although it took every part of me not to steal it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Last Minute Lasagna

Is there no more comforting meal during a chilly fall night to enjoy with friends than lasagna? This is an easy recipe that I made up with memories from my mother's recipe. She uses ground beef, but we are addicted to farmer's market pork sausage. You can use ground turkey but I suggest if you do that you add toasted fennel seeds, dried oregano and extra basil to flavor the meat.

Chop half a large onion and brown your sausage together. Don't salt. There is a ton of salt in the cheese.

Go snag some fresh basil from your neighbor's herb garden before the first freeze. Pile it up and chiffonade the babies. Meaning, roll the basil stack and slice it thin.

While you are in said neighbors garden snip some thyme as well.

Add the thyme and simply pull the leaves off the woody stem. You don't want to use the stem.

Here is the last minute trick. Many lasagnas call for ricotta cheese. You can substitute this for the following; cottage cheese, or a combination of cream cheese and sour cream. I have absolutely NO IDEA how I remember these things but I vaguely remember Momma subbing the cheesy mixture this way at Toad Hall. Toad Hall was Daddy's nickname for our childhood home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They had great parties. So much so that they left one weekend and friends showed up to party and they broke into the house and had the party without them. I think that sounds fun, but hey, it was the 1970s pre-Nellie and Macker. I will never be any where near as cool as my parents were in the 1970s. Ever.

The proportions are equal parts cream cheese, equal parts sour cream. You can use low fat. I don't think you loose flavor by doing so. We used South Mountain Creamery from the Waverly Farmer's Market. Then add about a half a cup of Parmesan cheese. This is the saltiest little cheese on earth, hence the reason you don't need to salt your meat mixture. Add the basil and mix together. Do not taste it. It is gross and will freak you out.  I know this because I tasted it and was convinced the meal would be ruined. But somehow it works all melded together with the sauce.

I used four jars of my Stone Hill Farm Holy Tomato Sauce. Pour over the meat mixture once it is browned. This is equivalent to about two large 24 ounce sauce jars. 

Spread the sauce on the bottom of a pretty casserole dish.

Layer cooked noodles. I still have yet to use no bake noodles. I'm a traditionalist. Then layer the cheese mixture, more sauce, noodles and repeat. Sprinkle fresh mozzarella on the top with Parmesan. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbling. When you take it out of the oven let it rest for 20-30 minutes. It will stay super hot and the layers will actually stay together in perfect sections.

Invite friends over and enjoy.

We love our Stone Hill neighbors and use any excuse to have a dinner party.

The Zenia's in the garden have overtaken the bird bath this fall. I'll be sad to see them go as they are on their last leggy legs.

Thank you Momma and Daddy for being such cooks and for the memories of dinner parties at Toad Hall. I remember you all singing at the piano while I sat and listened at the top of the stairs. And thank you Lord for our beautiful, beautiful Zenia crops this year. Amen! Thanks also to the mystery nominator for the Mobbie's in the Baltimore Sun.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We left our cozy Stone Hill for a drive in the country this past weekend. We had a whole day to just hang so we headed to historic Frederick, Maryland.

We parked on Market and 3rd Streets which is directly across from Volt.  

I remembered that our friend's sister owns a bed and breakfast on 3rd Street called the Hill House. We went to peek in the front door window and Damian came out and joked, "You have to ring the doorbell for someone to answer." I asked her if she remembered me and we quickly reconnected after nine years. We had the best visit with her in the parlor. I told her that I got to meet Bryan and Michael Voltagio at Preakness this year and that Bryan spoke so highly of Hill House. Turns out Damian kept all of Volt's chefs during the blizzard of 2010.

Bryan and Michael Voltagio were on Top Chef Season 6, the best season in my opinion.

We are going to save Volt for another visit when we can stay over at Hill House but have heard great reviews. We could have walked in and found a seat at the bar easily.

Retro Metro
Frederick has 75 blocks of historic richness. There are so many amazing independent shops. Here are a few of my favorites.

Velvet Lounge

Accessories of Old, A Vintage Emporium
 This was such a fun find. The owner sells vintage buttons, ribbons, costume jewelry and trim. I have no idea how he stays in business, but I adore this shop. Please order on-line from them.

I'd like a wall of ribbon at Stone Hill. Uncle Charlie, are you reading? Can you make me one?

There were yards and yards of trim, lace, velvet, you name it...this guy had it on one of the walls.

But my absolute favorite was the wall of buttons! I 

And funky pins.

They are all circa 1946!!! It reminds me of my grandmother's sewing box.

Where did he find this stuff? Poor E. I could have shopped for hours here. I see sock monkey eye buttons in my future from this cute spot.

The streets are so charming.


The Frederick Arts Council is very active in this city. The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center reminds me of the Kalamazoo Institute of Art where E. and I had our wedding reception, and where I grew up taking art classes. I wish we had one of these arts centers in Baltimore that wasn't as intimidating as taking art classes at MICA. Follow them on Twitter @delaplaine.

There are trompe l'oeil murals everywhere. They are breathtaking and insist on second glances.

The buildings are just gorgeous.

There was an art show in one of the buildings and I fell in LOVE with these precious flasks. Notice what the designer is wearing around her neck?

Ha! A mini flask. Wouldn't these be a fun twist for a bridal shower gift?

I'm a silver junkie always looking for sterling napkin rings. I try to find ones that don't have a monogram or ones with our monogram.

We are hunting for dining room chairs and I found these cute trucks for the little Boo Boos. 

Probably not good for kids to play with lead cars, right?

We had a late lunch at Brewer's Alley.

And watched the end of the Raven's game. 

I could do a lot of damage at The Muse.

We noticed the wallet I recently gave to E. was sold here too. Our barista from Spro makes them.

Follow @LindsayTron on Twitter. Her bags are called Clever Cat Bags. 

You will notice her Clever Cat buttons on her products. She makes wallets and messenger bags out of recycled coffee bean bags.

I'm eyeing that little bunny towel and the felted soaps. When you wash your hands the felt works as an exfoliant. The felt shrinks with the soap. Love.

We then walked down to Carrol Creek to work off a few calories. 


This is the Community Bridge which is another trompe l'oeil painting. Look closely. There is even a sign off the highway pointing you in its direction.

From far away it looks like a stone bridge.

But it is painted to looks like stone.

Nellie Nelle loves E. Boogie!

You can sit on any number of benches along the creek and just take in the day.

There are even Celtic Knots on the bridge.

You can sit for ours and just meditate here. The sounds of the water are so relaxing.

We thank the good people of Frederick for their hospitality. We can't wait to get away again for a full weekend.