May 30, 2015

The Unofficial Start of Summer + A Recipe

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer and the weather we have had lately is definitely making it feel that way!

We have had a pretty activity packed Spring and I'm sure the Summer will be no different. We've already been to a few Orioles games and went to see The Dave Matthews Band. Coming up is seeing Kevin Hart, going to the Florida Keys, and seeing the musical Dear Evan Hansen.

My 12th DMB Concert @ Jiffy Lube Live
Guacamole is excellent any time of the year, but I tend to enjoy it more in the summertime when corn is fresh and I can make this Charred Corn Guacamole recipe by Bobby Flay. My husband first made this for me many years ago while we were on vacation in the Outer Banks. I/we have adapted it only slightly. It tastes best after you've allowed all of the flavors to blend for a while but it still tastes good if you eat it right away. You could definitely add more or less of anything based on your taste and heat preference.

Charred Corn Guacamole
2 ears corn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning to your taste

Remove the outer husk from the corn and loosen the silks without removing. Dunk into water and place directly onto a hot grill for 15 minutes. Remove from grill. Allow to cool enough so that the corn is easy to handle. Remove remaining husks and silks and cut the kernels off of the cob.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips!


May 11, 2015

Changes at The Ellicott City Old Town Market

A few weeks ago I blogged about The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Farmer's Market season!

This past weekend, was the opening weekend of the Ellicott City Old Town Market. If you went to the Old Town Market last year, you will find many changes.

As I reported last year, the owner of River House Pizza Co had purchased the space behind where their oven is located as well taken over ScoopAHHdeedoo ice cream. ScoopAHHdeedoo has moved to the new space that River House Pizza Co owns. There is a window that you order at for both pizza and ice cream. I peered into the window and saw that there is a prep kitchen inside. The pizzas are made inside and are brought out to the oven. I overheard many people asking at the window if they were selling bread this year and the answer was unfortunately a no. The market itself starts at 9am, but River House/ScoopAHHdeedoo doesn't open until 10am. The husband and I didn't mind because we could walk around and check out the other vendors.

The other vendors are no longer located in the courtyard of the Hamilton Street parking lot. All of the vendors have been moved to the parking lot next to the Wine Bin. When we asked someone why, we were told it was because there weren't as many vendors this year and they wanted to keep them all together in one area.

After we walked up to the Wine Bin, checked out the vendors (some return vendors and some new, probably 6-7 altogether), we walked back down to order our pizzas. The pizza took a much longer time to be made and baked than last year. We weren't exactly sure why, but perhaps it's due to the change in process from before where they were made right as it was ordered in front of the oven and now it is made inside and must be brought outside. Nonetheless, the pizza was still as good as we remembered from last year.

As we were eating, The Little French Market was setting up to sell made to order waffles, something new this year. We saw many people park walk up to the courtyard with a confused look on their face then walk back to their cars to leave. There were no signs posted to let people know that all of the vendors had moved uptown. My husband and I both shared the same disappointment with our first visit to the market. Sadly, it really seemed to lack the energy and ambiance of last year.


May 5, 2015

There's A New Sushi Buffet In Town

For a while there were plenty of sushi buffet options in Howard County. Now it seems like they are few and far between. I blogged about the opening of Korshi in Columbia however they have closed in less than a year. Also worth noting both Niko and Kimko in Ellicott City have closed as well.

I always check the Valpak/Money Mailer coupons because there are typically some good deals on local restaurants. A few weeks ago while flipping through I saw a coupon for Bean & Burgundy. What caught my eye was that they are advertising a new sushi lunch buffet Monday-Sunday starting 4/22/15.

I had never been to Bean & Burgundy but have been meaning to go since it opened in 2013 (read HowChow's soft opening post). With no sushi buffet options, the husband and I checked it out on a Saturday two weeks ago.

Walking up to the restaurant I noticed that they have outdoor seating which is a nice option as the weather gets warmer. I love al fresco dining! Inside I was shocked by how big and open the space is. The space is very modern with large communal wood tables, a stage, and pillows in some of the booths. I also love that the kitchen is open so you can sit and watch what's going on in the kitchen. There is also a large bar that almost extends the entire length of the restaurant. Apparently they are open until 2am and offer late night and happy hour specials.

The lunch spread was quite large with dishes ranging from salads, wraps, pasta salads, hot Korean fare, and of course sushi. The husband and I were quite impressed. There were at least 20 different sushi roll options and 4 buffet tables with other dishes. Everything we tried was tasty and thought the quality of the sushi and it's fish to rice ratio were decent. If anyone has gone to Niko, you know what I'm talking about - the sushi at their lunch buffet was more rice than anything else. The only thing worth mentioning is that the service was a little slow during our initial visit, but we have since gone back and the service was much better.

As mentioned earlier, Bean & Burgundy are offering their sushi buffet 7 days a week which is something others typically haven't offered. If you've been missing sushi buffet in Howard County, look no further!

Bean & Burgundy
9469 Baltimore National Pike
Daily sushi buffet 11:30am-3:00pm


April 23, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

No, I'm not talking about Christmas (even though Christmas is a wonderful time of the year). I'm talking about the return of the local Farmer's Markets! The Baltimore Farmer's Market under the JFX officially opened on April 26th, but my husband and I made our first visit this past Sunday.

There are some new vendors this year and if you were a frequenter last year, you'll find that some of your favorites may have changed locations. Ruben's Crepes is no longer a vendor, but I saw the same albeit smaller menu at El Loco Taco & Crepes which is located in the Westside of the Market. Also noted is that Ruben's brick and mortar location in Federal Hill is reported as being closed on Yelp.

We got there around 9am and there was already a huge crowd of people. There were quite a few empty vendor spaces, but I chalk that up to the point in the season where the fruit/veggies just aren't ready yet.

My husband and I both wanted to try different things so he got in line for a breakfast burrito at Community Produce and I in line for a falafel wrap from Farm to Face. Let me just say that I am in love with this falafel wrap. I couldn't stop talking about it all day. All of the veggies were fresh and as I stood in line I could see someone chopping purple cabbage right there. You could get the falafel in a wheat wrap or wrapped in collard green leaves. I opted for the greens. Inside was hummus from The Wild Pea (which just so happens to be located right next to Farm to Face), apples, carrots, cabbage, beets, crispy and delicious falafel, a yogurt sauce, honey, and sriracha. It was super flavorful, filling, and healthy!

Our purchases: Cliff's Salsa (awesome) & Chips ($8), Smoked Salmon and cream cheese from Neopol Savory Smokery ($6), and Vampire Slayer Hummous from The Wild Pea ($5)

2015 Baltimore Farmer's Market List of Vendors
2015 Baltimore Farmer's Market Map

Other area Farmer's Markets include:

The Old Town Market in Downtown Ellicott City
May 9th-October 31st 9am-1pm

32nd Street Farmer's Market (Waverly Farmer's Market)
Per their website they are open year round from 7am-Noon

Howard County Farmer's Markets
Dates, times, and locations vary by day.


April 13, 2015

When the Nurse Becomes the Patient

A couple of weeks ago I had the worst migraine headache of my life. It was so bad. Dizziness, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, the works. It got so bad that I told my husband that I needed to go to the ER. I just want to mention how wonderful my husband was during all of this. He is not in healthcare and really hates when I talk about blood and guts, but he was there holding my hair and rubbing my back when I needed him the most :)

Forgoed Happy Hour and spent my Friday getting a different kind of cocktail.
I have never been that sick that I had ever considered going to the ER so I was super anxious about going. As a nurse, I have seen the good and the bad as far as a visit to the hospital can go. I was worried that they wouldn't be able to start an IV since I was so dehydrated, I was concerned that the medicine they would give me would make me sicker and that the staff wouldn't take good care of me.

I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth everything went and how much better I felt after the cocktail of drugs I received. All of the staff I encountered were very nice and provided me with excellent care! That reminds me that I need to mail out that thank you card to the nurse who took care of me that night. Folks, if you ever find yourself in the hospital and feel like you have received great care, please at least take a moment to say thank you to the staff. Nursing (and other healthcare professions) is often a thankless job. For me, I know that at the end of a horrible day, having a patient thank me for all I did for them makes no bathroom breaks, no lunch, IV restarts, 3,000+ steps all worth it! Stepping off my soapbox now....

It was a weird feeling for me to be a patient instead of the nurse. It made me think about all of the patients I had cared for and what I looked for in a "good nurse." Was I my own idea of what a "good nurse" should be?

The honest answer is that I was probably not always living up to my idea of what a "good nurse" should be. I am wholeheartedly certain that my intent was to provide the best care possible for my patients, but there are factors that I am sure did not always make that possible. I think that nurses hold themselves to such high expectations and when one of them isn't met we tend to beat ourselves up about it. I was all about doing everything I promised my patients I would do which often times meant me not clocking out until way past quitting time. It took me awhile to realize that one person can not always complete every task, fulfill every promise, meet every need in one 12 hour shift, but by that time I was really feeling the signs of burn out.

This whole thing has really given me an even greater appreciation for the profession I have chosen for myself. Nursing really is a profession of caring!