Oh yeah, it’s the kickoff of the grilling season. Opened a fresh bag of charcoal today and we were off. I wonder what percentage of people grill out this weekend? I’ve been a lifelong user of Weber Grills. They last forever and with a couple of additional tools, you can be very versatile.
I would like to get a true smoker someday but maybe when retirement comes because I’ll have the time to do a lot more cooking.
I’m feeling fortunate to have a nice meal. I think I’ll help someone else have one also.
I marinated the salmon for a few hours before grilling. Also grilled up some prosciutto and that is under the cheese on a few of those burgers.
But the topping of the day was my children and grandchildren here for a visit and meal. Such a beautiful day weather wise and being able to eat outside in comfort is a treat.
I spent a lot of time alone reflecting on the loss of my Mom a dozen years ago today. It was also a dozen days from the stroke till she passed. I have many great memories of her. But those last days got ingrained in my thoughts because it was so painful to watch.
But as the children were here with their children I felt at times like her love kind of was there holding its arms around this family.
Random Thoughts of the Day
Seems so long ago and like yesterday at the same time.
I love dogs, it’s some of the owners I have issues with.
I’m tired of the Celtics whining. It would be Sweet to see the HEAT take it in Beantown.
I’m seeing I’m not the only one unhappy with all the gambling references before, during, and after games. And that doesn’t include the barrage of betting commercials in between all the talk about it. Professional sports are doomed.
Just a few more shots from our short visit to OC a few weeks ago. I wish my attitude was as sunny as the skies but work infringed on my sleep so it hasn’t been the best start to the week.
Outside the Kite Loft in OC. Photos by Mike Hartley
That morning interruption of a few hours cost me time today and I didn’t finish the mowing so I’m behind as the week gets rolling. It’s okay though, many days to regain form and I’m taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I should have a new phone by Thursday.
Boundaries are important. I’ve failed to set some needed ones during phases of my life. But with age comes wisdom.
Had a great meal at Cafe EZ in Ellicott City Sunday afternoon. I hesitate to sing this place’s praises because it’s already getting popular enough. The service and food are great each time we have been there. It’s only open 8-3 each day but it’s great for breakfast or lunch or a mid-day dessert if you feel so inclined.
I also had one of my favorite pizzas this past weekend from Ledo in Normandy. The Hawian is becoming my every other pizza from there because I usually get the pre-cooked bacon on that which is great but I’m trying to live into my grandkid’s lives so I’m making that more of a treat.
Random Thoughts of the Day
Be happy with yourself. That way if nobody else is, that no longer matters.
I’m going to have to start using some sunscreen if I’m going to be outside this much.
Interesting what you can do when you set your mind to it. A new low on the scale today.
The barking dogs late into the night next door isn’t going to last much longer.
I love the sound of my printer. It’s a clunky-sounding thing but it does some nice home prints. It’s a Canon Pro100 and I’ve been very pleased with it. I starting to get a steady use of it again. Had a lull this winter but we have been knocking some out regularly the last few weeks.
It’s another tool I need to take better advantage of. So let me get busy going through that 50-sheet pack I just opened today.
Ah yes, the Cream of Crab soup. I’ve always preferred it this way instead of the traditional Maryland Crab soup. I haven’t had any in a while and am building an appetite for it.
My favorite was at Reflections restaurant in Ocean City which is no longer there. A nice wide bowl, with just lump crabmeat, was sat in front of you. Then the waiter would add the cream, sherry, and a light dusting of Old Bay seasoning, and wow.
But I digress, I’m here to share a few local ones I’ve had. The best recently has been Shannons in Ellicott City. Bare Bones has been good but it’s just a little thick for my taste. LeeLynns was also very good. Oh, I almost forgot about Oscars Ale House in Eldersburg which was excellent.
I’m sure I’ll think of a few more of my favorites just after I post this but those are a few I would suggest.
Random Thoughts of the Day
I love taco Tuesdays.
The season of fun is soon approaching.
Try not to lose your confidence. Life is harder without it.
I like working at my father’s desk.
Happy Birthday to my Mother in-law. You always made me feel so welcome.
I’m feeling positive about this coming week. Well, at least that is the mindset I hope to go through it with. A plan to eat better again and continue some exercise. Eating better before now was just eating more. Exercise while a staple of my first 40 years of life became few and far between the last few decades.
So it’s been a change of mind for the most part. And some simple things like dropping my soda and snack intakes. Nice steps but I need to do more to get to a weight and more healthy eating style. So the treadmill and I are becoming a daily companions.
No time to waste though and finishing up this week strong is a priority. Only a few hours till a full night of work slaps me in the face but no problem. Production will continue. I believe I’ll work on my photo site this evening and upload some more images to it and do some sorting and labeling.
I wonder at what point mass shootings become as commonplace a news item as the weather.
I wonder if I’ll have a few minutes this week to get my camera to the repair shop.
I wonder if I can do something amazing this week.
I wonder if I’m making the right decisions about working.
I wonder how good that Reuben is going to taste tomorrow.
I had 3 things at the beach OCMD, Fenwick Island, and Bethany Beach that I have to rave about. The Crab Imperial at Harpoon Hanna’s was great. The breakfast western crepe at Sunshine Crepe in Bethany Beach was great. The Dumsers Cherry Ice Cream Soda at 123th Street in OC was great again.
Sorry, I gobbled up the Crab Imperial before I could take a picture. Even though I’m eating better I’ll continue to sample some tasty and maybe fattening dishes but I’ll just balance it out. Portions here are so large that I’ve been stretching out meals into 2-3 a lot of times in recent years.
I think it’s time for some local food reviews also. So that means I’ll be taking my better half out for a bite this week, between the packed schedule.
The Bloganuary prompt today is “What is your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?” There is only one correct answer if you’re from the state of Maryland. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs is a Maryland food group. Be it freshly steamed or a crabcake sandwich. I love fresh shrimp or flounder stuffed with crabmeat. And dozens of other combinations But crab is the ingredient.
Photos by Mike Hartley
My favorite meal to cook is anything on the grill.
Random Thoughts of the Day
I think one day I’ll just make the entire post a bunch of random thoughts. Oh, that’s probably what you thought I was doing anyway.
I would like to thank the outgoing Governor of the State of Maryland for a good job over the past 8 years and welcome the new Governor and hope he can keep the progress moving and even make us even better.
I regret being so tense and on edge when my kids were young.
Speaking without thinking is much easier to spot when someone else is doing it.
Had a really nice Saturday and finished it off with a nice meal at Fox & Barrel Farm Cafe on Frederick Road (Rt 144) and Triadelphia Road. Very good food. Nice casual atmosphere and some bakery and other menu items I’m going to have to return for. Because fresh, flavorful, and comfortable are always winners in my eyes.
And for me, there was a special thing that caught my eye. They serve breakfast all day. Being that sometimes I rise at 1 or 2 pm and have a hankering for breakfast my choices are usually cook something myself. I’m going to have to try them out for that meal soon.
There is something I love about small businesses that produce quality products. And they certainly seem to be living up to the reviews my better half said they were getting. I hope it continues, I wish them success and I’ll be back to support them.
And while I’m complementing local food establishments I want to thank Facci in Turf Valley for another wonderful meal for my better half’s birthday lunch a few weeks ago.
And instead of talking about food, I’ll start taking pictures before I dig in next time and share a few of these gems. And like the food shows, I’ll let you know what I like about it.
The eve of Stupor Bowl Sunday. Boy, we used to have some parties. Some events would start tonight by putting meats in the smoker. One year we did a brisket, pork shoulder, lamb, and ham. At that same event, we also had rockfish, backfin crabmeat, scallops, shrimp, and lobsters. That was a non-stop feast for hours.
I haven’t gotten together with the boys in years, but I needed something tomorrow to kind of enjoy before the week gets serious with some memorial services to attend early in the week. So I’m starting my workweek 2 hours later than normal and enjoying the company of my best friends.
And a special note to people. Remember they are all “just a game.”
I had the pleasure of listening to a 2-year-old Friday. My favorite 2-year-old in fact who’s my granddaughter. You really have to listen intently because they are in the process of learning words and meanings. So their pronunciation is just forming and just their excitement at communication gets them going faster and faster which is harder to pick up everything they are trying to say.
The experience of being a grandparent is wonderful and I’m blessed to be within driving distance to both my children’s homes so life is great. I so look forward to watching her each week. We aren’t the full-time support but we take a few days. This is going to be a special year at the beach. She was only 1 last year so it was pretty subdued. This year will be different I’m sure. One she has wheels. Those little legs propel her quickly in whatever direction her mind takes her. The water and sand will certainly get a workout.
Grandchildren are also a good reminder of how fast time moves. I hope I have a lot more healthy years to give them. For I have lots to pass on and many more laughs to share. I guess I should get on the treadmill and get some cardio work.
Storage shed sorting trip of parents belongings. I find it discomforting and comforting looking through our parent’s things. But that is the task when they pass. Making the calls on what to keep, what to trash, what various people would like as keepsakes. It’s very personal and raises many feelings. Are we doing it to their satisfaction? What would I want to be done with my own things? Are there special things we didn’t know about that will be lost?
Then there is just the discomfort going through someone’s things let alone a parent or loved one. Then there are the emotional pitstops. Those items that stop you in your tracks. Notes from the past, a rosery thought lost, a journal, a favorite hat, or fill in your own treasure here. But there are a great number of them in most cases that will bring tears.
I’m of the belief, that I can change things. That is a rather recent revelation to me. I’ve talked myself out of so many things over my lifetime. I just wished I had these thoughts and confidence earlier in life. I guess it’s just the confidence that comes with time, experiences, and wisdom. I won’t spend time worrying about what could have been different. I’m just trying to do something each day now and it feels great.
I don’t have to fix the world to make it better, most of the time it’s one person or thing at a time, which I hope in turn spreads to others. So take the time to talk to someone or pick up that trash.
Treats from Stella Notte last night were a welcome sight and very tasty. Some stuffed portabella mushrooms with spinach/artichoke and cheese in a wonderful sauce. Some fresh moterzella cheese and tomatos with balsomic vinegrette. Scallops and spinach and the diet killer Seafood Mac and Cheese. This is one of our go-to Italian places along with Facci, Pasta Plus, Anthony’s, and Maggianos. And a shout to a past favorite no longer with us Luna Bella.
Random Thoughts of the Day
Roots that have been dead for 5 years are still tough to extract from the ground.
It’s amazing what you can make fit through a doorway.
Panara flatbreads are good.
The rain didn’t do its job in helping me sleep last night.
Any day you can spend with your grown children is a blessing.
First time I’ve used some photos I’ve taken from an iPhone. My brain still hasn’t connected the phone and camera combination because I’m so used to picking up a camera.
Today was crabgrass killer day. Again a bumper crop in my yard that has to be put to rest. A good day to be outside this afternoon. Pleasant temps for a mid-August day. So I worked on my tan while spraying weeds. One of several chores on the agenda today. But to hell with chores. My mind is wandering to food.
Onto one of my favorite crustacean, the Maryland Blue Crab. I see the Governor has proclaimed Saturdays in September as Buy Maryland Seafood days. And they had a link to all the places you can get these and other seafood delights of the state called Maryland Crab and Oyster Trail.
There are few things as good as a fresh catch. Some rockfish, maybe smothered in crabmeat. Maybe some oysters Rockefeller. I’m not much of a raw oyster guy but fry or steam or broil those suckers and I’m in.
So this coming month on Saturday’s I think I’ll try to uphold the Governor’s wishes and support our local seafood industry.
Of course, complimenting our local favorites is always a good idea so why not throw the kitchen sink at it.
Nothing like a little seasoned shrimp, lobster with some drawn butter and scallops. Of course, those are well wrapped in bacon. So grab yourself a dozen steamed crabs before the season comes to an end and keep the Gov happy.
Random Thoughts of the Day
For the first time in quite a while, there is a chill in the air tonight outside.
I miss seeing the school busses on the road.
Some leadership might be a nice change of pace.
I miss getting on my motorcycle. It would always make me feel 10 years younger.
It was a soup and sandwich type day today. Steady persistent rain, all day it seemed. So a grilled cheese and tomato soup were served today by my better half at lunch. That about took me out for the afternoon. It’s easy to relax when you know you don’t have to rush back to work this week.
But tonight we had some long-overdue homemade crabcakes. I was going to eat both of mine but I managed to save one for later on tonight. It’s been a great year and I’ve eaten a good number of crabcakes. I still think the best I had was from Pappas in Parkville.
But there were several good ones in Ocean City this year and about a dozen other towns in Maryland. I could eat seafood every day. And Maryland crabs would be at the top of the list.
Tonight I used the main Old Bay recipe but I used some Frenches spicy brown mustard instead of the standard mustard. I also added a touch of Worcestershire sauce. Instead of the 2 teaspoons of Old Bay, I used 2 1/2. Also, a touch of ground mustard and just a little more mayo than called for. And maybe a little less parsley than called for.
Usually, I pan fry them but today I broiled them. I might have to go this route more often. All I know is I can’t wait for the season to begin again and the fresh Maryland crabs to be plentiful.
Random Thoughts of the Day
Not having to step foot outside on a sloppy day is key to a good attitude.
Well, I’m only human, I can’t totally ignore that tin of cookies.
I’ve got to spend some time this evening writing a few notes and catching up with some friends.
I’ll do better Monday because I’m getting outside a good bit. Which reminds me to go charge the camera batteries again.
The Best Crabcakes – All of them. No really, I setting out this year (2019) on the hunt for best crabcakes. For I’m blessed to live in the great state of Maryland and if this state gets anything right, its crabs. The tastiest critters and the best spices in the WORLD. OK I might be biased a bit there, but I’d run it up the flagpole against anything, if food orgasms are the measure.
Crabacake Photo by Mike Hartley
I love those tasty crustaceans, prepared in many ways, but the crabcake is something that’s special. Yeah I like to pick crabs. Yeah I like stuffed shrimp and crab imperial. I love crushed crabcake over rockfish.
Actually in all truth, this is a post I started last year and found in my drafts folder. We will call that background effort to this years event. I did do some extensive research and it paid off handsomely. THEY TASTED GREAT. I learned of some new and serious contenders. I sampled some old favorites. I just got lost in eating them. My apologies. This year I’ll do better.
Really few things will get Marylander’s riled up like arguing about the best crabcake. Hell just look at the confusion the word itself creates. Is it spelled “Crabcake” or “Crab Cake” or Crab-Cake”. Or maybe with the Eastern shore drawl “CwabcAke”. Or if you’re at a fancy restaurant where eating a crabcake isn’t as comfortable because you’re in cloths you wear once or twice a year. And the waiter says you can get one crabcake if preferred in for the crabcake dinner and it takes all your strength not to get up and slap him silly and say “do I look like someone who eats only one crabcake, do I?”
The Wonderful thing about THE Best Crabcake is that they can be found in so many places. Part of that is personal preferences of the consumer. Some like fried, others broiled. Some like a little moist and some a bit dry. Some get mad at any filler to speak of, some prefer a plumper cake like. Some have to have a HUGE crabcake and others the more traditional size.
Some crabcakes just taste better looking out over the waters of the bay. Some are best with that lump backfin you brought home from the beach to make your “SPECIAL” crabcakes for your better half. Some are best while sitting on wooden tables and benches at some local joint that is a hidden secret. Some of course can be found in your finer dining establishments but are never as fun to eat there because I don’t feel comfortable uttering even in a low voice “this is the best F’ing crabcake in the world” so those places will never get my number one vote.
I’m going to enlist a few friends also in this adventure. I will make note at the time of year and as much positive things I can find to say about them. I’ll also be adding evaluations of Cream of Crab soup which is a long time favorite of mine and anything else they throw in. Please NOTE. these friends are “Professionals” Lifelong Maryland residents and some raised crabbing on the bay at their parents home. The kind of place you walked into that had multiple steamer pots, BIG ones. Multiple cages for caught crabs tied to their docs. They know Crabs. Ah the old days.
For those of you not from the Maryland/Virginia area, Old Bay is a seasoning that we love to put on crabs and other seafood dishes. Photo by Mike Hartley
So I’ll provide a review as I eat through the state this year and do a wrap in the end. Don’t hesitate to suggest a spot.
Random Thoughts of the Day
There are few better feelings, then when the weekend starts. Except all the feelings your having going through the weekend.
A lot of things seem to be missing heart.
Some decisions make sense over time.
Go Terps – back on track after last nights victory.
As I was eating a chunky peanut butter sandwich last night for dinner, I was skimming some family shots when I found a few food/dinner shots mixed in. And I’m sitting here almost drooling over this plate of steak and crabcake (this is how I choose to spell crabcake, I’m from Marland and that is what its called) I had at Fagers Island a few weeks ago and trying to decide where we should go out to dinner this weekend. No I’m not at the ocean again. We are home here in Howard County. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get a good meal around here.
Steak and Cake Photo by Mike Hartley
But there were several very good meals at the beach a few weeks ago. I’m going to touch on a place that has been there for 25 years and I’m disgusted I’ve missed it up to this point. Its in Fenwick Island and its called Nantuckets. This was a wonderful meal and complete dining experience. So was Fagers Island fine dining. BJ’s was also good as well as the Dumser’s ice cream.
I was blessed with another wonderful day. I hope the same holds true for tomorrow.
There are somethings that laughter just can’t get you through. But it works for a majority of things.
Take the time, work the time, share the time, cherish the time, use the time, appreciate the time, don’t waste the time, just my dime’s opinion.
I forgot to tell a lot of people today that I love them.
I look forward to the day I can be fishing with brothers again.
Fishing moments are forever. Photo by Mike Hartley
I was just regaling some friends with my strange diet. I can eat anything at anytime day or night and I usually do. Comes from decades of fluctuating schedules and shifts. So to me, there is no too early or too late for any meal. There are no boundaries. If you can imagine it, I’ve had it at any meal. That is what happens with shift work. And by shift work I mean anything other that the Monday-Friday 9-5 with a few hours either way.
Just Deserts Photo by Mike Hartley
Shift work is brutal. You have to develop a mindset that it doesn’t matter and do your best to participate with the 9-5 world. I’ve worked about every shift there is in addition to that normal day gig. I’ve worked shifts with weekends, I’ve worked shifts that include any holiday that lands on your work day. I’ve worked shifts from mid afternoon to midnight. I’ve worked shifts from late afternoon to late evening. That is the worst one for the drive home. Yeah the streets at 2 – 4 am are nice and clear. Of everything but drunks that is, or people looking for easy targets. Not just animals are dangerous at night.
Key Lime Pie Photo by Mike Hartley
I think those who have to do the rotating shifts of a few weeks or months at days, then mid evenings and then overnight must take a horrible toll. Those are the ones I suspect cause the most damage. Then it’s that late night overnight shift that is probably a close second to damage to body and mind. The kind where the sun is coming up as your shift ends. And then on the days off you flip back to a day scheduled because that is when all your friends and family are up normally.
I’ve been on shifts that are 10 hrs scheduled. A few of those have been lucky enough to be 4 night weeks. That is actually like working part-time because most of my life its been 10-12 hr days 5-7 days a week. I guess that is a curse of working around inspired and dedicated people, it has its perks and penalties.
But back to food. Unless you worked those weird shifts you wouldn’t think about getting up and grilling a steak at 3am or a pepperoni and sausage pizza at 6am or a seafood pasta at 9am. Or maybe waffles at 4pm. Doesn’t matter. I still love it all. But its hard to eat correctly. It really takes some discipline. And if I’m honest I lack in that area so I end up not eating right. Ah, to hell with it, bring me another slice of PIE.
I liked the passion that Chester Bennington sang with. Reminded me of the first time I heard Roger Daltrey scream. May Chester rest in peace. It troubles me that so many don’t have friends or family that can step in, during times of crisis. Yes I’m sure there are cases when everyone has done everything and more that could be done, that end tragically, but a majority I think could be stopped.
Its incumbent on all of us to try to make this a better place for all of us. Do something simple each day for someone. Maybe a complete stranger. An act of kindness or friendship. Depression and suicidal thoughts can be turned around. I’m living proof of that. But there are so many, that those thoughts win out. It’s not like people think like that all the time. Sometimes its a series of events leading to a downward spiral, that can be reset by a good action or interaction in between. Try to be that person or friend or loved one.
I’m far from perfect in this effort. At times in my life I’ve been told how important it has been for my help along the way. At other times I know I should have said or done more.
Never underestimate the power of a smile or simple greeting. Call someone who is alone. Write friends you can’t see. Say hello to a homeless person. Just be compassionate.
I got to thinking about how much my friends, family and I like to eat BBQ. So I thought I’d start a trek to review the areas best BBQ and share it here. My first visit/establishment was to Mission BBQ in Ellicott City. Each visit, I’ve loved it. Service and environment are great. But I was really surprised with how much I liked it because I had heard two average reviews from some acquaintances.
Mission BBQ Route 40 Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley
The Brisket, Pulled Pork and Chicken are very good and the sauces offered are a nice variety. Memphis Belle was my personal favorite. The mac and cheese is to die for and the baked beans are also very good. I’m looking forward to trying the Baby Back Ribs on the next visit.
I’ve been thinking of enlisting “The Crew” to join me for a feast of Howard Counties and surround area BBQ. Being that BBQ is a passionate debate in the least, I’ve decided to protect the names of my innocent companions.
Rest assured these are seasoned professionals. Maybe a bit to seasoned, just kidding. They are all grill masters themselves. Some of the meals they whip up certainly are right up there with some great restaurants I’ve eaten at. I’m sure 2 of them could be chefs.
So watch for the BBQ ratings to flow in 2017 and hopefully my waistline can remain somewhat intact.
Our friends had to cancel out of dinner plans this evening due to one of them being under the weather. But I’m still going to be hungry as well as my other half so a meal out sometime today is still in the plans. Not really planning on the Oysters in the photo but some type of seafood I think is going to tickle my palate.
Right time, right place. Bethany Oyster House. Photo by Mike Hartley
Didn’t know which photo to use so I put them both here. The bloody marry and bottle of Tabasco are good but the oysters didn’t pop like the one above.
Breakfast of Champions Photo by Mike Hartley
Never developed a taste for the raw oysters but fried or stew or Rockefeller I’m in. My best friend and his wife said these were great. We were at the Bethany Oyster House this past summer for a wonderful lunch. I’ve got to work more on my food photography this coming year. I enjoy it for some reason, oh yeah I LOVE to EAT. So maybe I’ll get a start today with some shots of our dinner if I think of it. That is the key to doing more. Thinking and acting.
Shopping, not my bag but out I go. Should be fairly easy, got a plan and list. And my better half takes care of most of the family stuff. I do some things also but she gets credit for the success of our holidays. We both decorate but she really makes it look great. I do some lights and the tree’s, but the rest she does. And she does a good bit. Kind of reminds me of how special my parents would make the home with seasonal items and decorations.
So as the preparations come to a head for the holiday weekends, I hope you all are able to appreciate the company of family and friends. Only one more week to get through and then I’m on vacation. HELL YEAH.
Thoughts on Craig Sager passing
Traits I admire. Courage and perseverance. So it left me with a heavy heart Thursday evening to learn of Craig Sager passing. I’m a big basketball junkie and TNT really does the best work in the pro’s so I saw a lot of him. Genuine person is what you would feel through the camera.
In watching the tributes this past evening it was touching in many ways. It was fitting and ironic that he passed on a Thursday night with TNT having a double-header. Because you could see how far and many friendships he had fostered. You kind of thought this person would be the sharing type but then you hear the specific stories of him helping and sharing all his experience and knowledge is a special trait. One of the main things wrong with business now is that people don’t share, its to competitive. But I’ve tried to do the same in my career. I don’t use knowledge as power, I give away freely of what I know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blowing my own horn, it doesn’t take all that long to share the experience I have professionally. But I’m also always learning so the well never runs dry.
But that was just one things he seemed to bring to his work family. It sounded like he also gave very wise career advice to some of the successful people who worked with him. Craig sounded like the whole package because was the person always glad to see you and greet you with a smile. And it was genuine because you see it in the people talking about it, that felt it. Another behavior I admire.
The quality of the people he impressed as a person is impressive indeed. But that fight to the end was something to behold. And his speech at the ESPY’s getting the Jimmy V award was something impressive. A quote from him follows:
“Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”
And that for some reason has stuck with me and made me a better person. Because no matter what, I’m glad of the gift of another day, another chance to love and be loved. To create and converse. To smile, laugh and cry. To live.
Well we have another month or so that the grills will be active. Or group has been known to grill year round but not as often as we age gracefully. Now while this meal might not look that healthy, we always have veggies and salads with these slabs of meat. Think I’ll do some chicken later today. These steaks below were done by my best friends, both grill masters.
Nice 1 1/2 ” steaks from the Laurel Meat Market. Photo by Mike Hartley
So let’s get this coming week off to a smoke’n start. I’m ready mentally. Feeling better physically also. The last few days were a struggle at times but I’ll take a fresh start.
The Weber is an all season appliance. Photo by Mike Hartley
Now I know why they put the election so close to the holidays. So we can get back to practicing getting along together again.
This weeks weather is like a shot of positive mental health.
Nothing like a good seafood dinner. And there are few states better than Maryland for seafood. I’ll give the upper northeast the corner of the lobster market and maybe clams. Good thing I’m not a food photographer, I’d be 500 lbs. While this wasn’t on the menu today, but we did have a great lunch at Facci in Turf Valley. We took my wife’s parents and all had a wonderful time. Great service and food. We will be back again.
Scallops, slaw and baked potato w/sou cream. Photo by Mike Hartley
The crabs were excellent at Crab Bag this year.
I could claw my way through a few of these. Photo by Mike Hartley
Much accomplished in parts of life. So behind in others. Like proper attention to this blog on the behind side. Good thing this race has lots of starting lines because I’m a long way from finished. Fridays are wonderful. I get to spend them with my better half. I sent her something the other day which I’m sure someone has thought of before but I don’t remember seeing it. I think the thing that triggered the thought was seeing the movie Scarface. Where the blimp goes over with the words “The World is Yours”. I wrote my better half the following. “The world is mine. You are my world.”
Yeah kind of sappy but I get that way now with people who mean a good bit to me. I’ve been a lot more honest with friends than I ever have in a number of ways. Mostly telling them how important they have been in my life. Where I feel I might have let them down. Reflecting on events and good times. All kinds of things actually.
Flood in the lobby provided this nice reflection. Photo by Mike Hartley
I’ve put off shooting much the last month. And I’ve got to get back to that now because I didn’t have a lot of skills to start with and if you don’t practice than those few abilities might disappear. So despite the sloppy weather I hope to grab some frames the next days and work the tools.
Also going to finish several drafts that I better publish soon before they become obsolete. So this is another comeback pep talk for myself. It was kind of inspired by a friend who has her own company doing a re-evaluation and focus on her own business and what she wanted to do and accomplish. I’m not at that level but it was inspiring to see her doing that again because she was so good at it when we worked together many years ago.
Had a great breakfast at Cafe Mezcla in Ellicott City this morning. Wonderful food and people. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.
I have to start this off with the fine meal we had a Portalli’s this evening in Ellicott City. It was excellent company, with great food in a wonderful environment close to home. We sat downstairs for the first time for dinner. I found this very comfortable and might asked to be seated down there in the future. I found it a bit easier to talk. But I did like the piano music last time we were upstairs. Well give and take and just alternate. Or go with the mood in the future I guess.
Portalli’s in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley
Anyway service was grand. We did have to wait for a valet for a short bit but I think he was the only one working so its hard to be in two places at once. Regardless he was very nice and we were seated quickly with the exception of waiting for someone to take a family photo at dinner. No problem at all. Our waitress (I’m very sorry I didn’t catch her name) was very good. I though her timing was perfect. I didn’t feel rushed. She was there confirming all was well several times (after each course), cleaned up any dishes promptly and most of the time without interrupting the flow of our multiple conversations.
I didn’t have to ask for a thing all evening. Drinks and refills were always there. New silver between appetizers and main entrees. A steak knife for yours truly. Plates for our appetizers. Waters refilled. Crumbs cleaned from the linens. Everything went well. You know a waiter/waitress has to have a good sense of timing and people. And when you have multiple people finishing it can’t be perfect for everyone but tonight was about the best table service I’ve had in a good while.
And a tip of the hat to the Chef. The Baked Oysters were the best I’ve had in some time. The cold seafood appetizer we also shared (a special of the day) was very good also. The melting butter candle was unique and good. My three dinner mates all had salads. They seemed to be very happy with them. I think they were the Portalli’s salad. Sorry, I’m not a salad person, but I have had their Caesar before and that was great.
Instead of going with my favorite Seafood Carbonaro, I decided to go for the Filet Minion with friend eggplant as a side. The steak was ordered medium. It was perfectly cooked and had some nice seasoning. Very tender. My better half had the Surf & Turf Rigatoni. Our friends had the Cioppino Over Pappardelle and the Prosciutto-Wrapped Cod.
Everyone was very pleased and it was a great meal and conversation. It was a great way and place to spend a Saturday evening. It also was another great reminder to take every opportunity possible to get together with friends. I love my wife dearly and enjoy her company very much. But it’s also nice to have friends to socialize with. For both of us and anyone really its a healthy thing to have and do often.
And I say often because the more you do with friends, the stronger those relationships are. The more fun is had and the quality of life for everyone is improve. Thanks for the great company last night C&J.
What a beautiful day. The blue of the sky this afternoon is hard to describe. I know I watched it from my hammock and it was very soothing. So I applaud this gentleman on the bike that keeps our skies blue. I put a lot of miles on a bicycle at one time in my life. Damn good exercise and a good way to see things. Of course with the traffic in this area it’s fairly dangerous also. But the thought of it has me thinking I might have to go wander that new bike shop (Race Pace Bicycles) on Bethany Lane.
I think I can smoke that van and bike going up this hill. Photo by Mike Hartley
Had a wonderful dinner at Portelli’s in Ellicott City on Friday night. It is great to see them thriving and busy. It’s a tough town to sustain a business so when you find one who is standing the test of time, it’s going to be good. Service was great and my in-laws were very happy. My favorite is the first dish below. Was perfect last night.
Seafood Carbonara – sautéed shrimp, scallop & crab with spaghetti tossed in an egg pancetta cream sauce. Photo by Mike Hartley
Surf & Turf Penne – jumbo shrimp and Filet Mignon tips with arugula & peppadew in a red wine cream sauce, served over penne with sautéed mushrooms. Photo by Mike Hartley
Just a Reminder — OK, you have been on the rides down in Ocean City while you were on vacation. You have been to your local county fair. Only one more big one to go. Yep the Maryland State Fair on August 28th to September 7th. This is a special time of year for me because the State Fair was the first date I had with my wife. And despite this she married me anyway. There is no luckier man than I.
The Old coaster on the pier in Ocean City. Photo by Mike Hartley
You have been to the Howard County Fair. Now hit the big rides as the State Fair.
Ride at the Howard County Fair. Photo by Mike Hartley
Summer Thoughts on a Sweltering Sunday – Boy do I love the hot summer days. My favorite season of the year. The time when I throw on a pair of gym shorts and flip-flops and I’m fully dressed. The time when I can ride with the car windows open. The time when you can go swimming OUTSIDE. The time when people take vacations. The time when traffic is low because schools are out. The time when a holiday marks the beginning another one square in the middle and one signifying the end of Summer (Memorial, 4th and Labor Day). The time when you play basketball outside that the ball doesn’t lose its bounce because of the cold. The time when there is color everywhere from nature. The time when fruit is sweeter and fresher. The time when you can sit by a fire pit and not need the warmth of the fire to be outside.
Ready for the water today. Photo by Mike Hartley
I even loved summer before I rode a motorcycle, which also is the favorite season of all cyclist I believe. But my season is quickly coming to an end again. So I had better get away from this electronic device and get my behind outside again.
Selfies – must be a youth thing? – I’m not sure I understand this. Mainly because I guess we never had this option much in the days of old technology. Some advanced cameras had a time delay and if you could find a flat surface to hold them (not everyone carried a tripod), you might get in a group shot. Actually I’m a bit self-conscious doing something like that. Don’t know why, but it doesn’t seem natural. So that is why I said its a youth thing, because it’s not something this old-timer is comfortable with.
A guy doing a family selfie downtown Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley
Glory Days Grill – Ellicott City – Had a wonderful experience their last night. I was wondering how prepared they would be after just opening recently but who ever has done the training did a good job. Service and food was great. Comfortable booths and good views to many TV’s. I opted to just not do the sound in the both to a specific event because I enjoy talking with my other half. Well most of the time. Except when she is really mad. But I digress. I’ve had two different burgers here and they have been top-notch. Cooked to order and delivered as ordered. The Blue Cheese and grilled onion burger last night was great. Fried pickles were good also. My wife had the Shrimp taco which she also enjoyed very much. Looks like we will be back.
Random Thoughts for Sunday August 16th 2015
A lot of my tough times have taught me great things.
I have been blessed with wonderful parents. And also again with wonderful parent in-laws.
Today I’m cancer free. Tomorrow they will tell me if that is still true.
I believe in making my office a place for personal comfort. That is why I fill it with photos everywhere.
I’m no longer taking responsibility for others at work. See, there is one way to get rid of stress.
Actually I’ve lost track of days of the week, being off and pretty much home bound for over 2 weeks. But the calendar says it’s Hump Day, so be it. And in some ways it does feel like crossing a hump. The last two days have been the first in weeks that I’ve felt somewhat comfortable in a number of ways. Yesterday I tried driving again. Kind of strange when something you do at a clip of over 100 miles a day easily, to none at all for weeks, I felt a bit rusty. But being a veteran of the Washington/Baltimore madness, it only took a few minutes of orientation. So with that milestone I’m feeling just peachy again. Even though my better half insist on rest and healing.
Feeling just peachy. Photo by Mike Hartley
I had a co-pilot on my first drive out, just in case I had any issues, but the drive went fine. So after a good lunch and Snowball, I took the opportunity to get my better half a dozen roses to surprise her with when she got home from work. It’s the least I can do for a wonderful partner in life.
Still can’t touch the beauty of my wife. Photo by Mike Hartley
My daughter kindly came over to go to lunch with me and run a few errands. I suggested Bare Bones in St Johns shopping center. Close by and always pretty good quality food and service. And it was a wonderful lunch. I had the Rockfish Fingers with corn fritters and coleslaw. Melissa had the crab pretzel and corn fritters also, and both meals were great. I like their menu because it always offers a good variety. The shrimp salad sandwiches are always spiced to my liking. The cream of crab soup is another one of my favorites. My wife has always been a fan of the Bare Bones Special Salad. I’ve only tried the BB BBQ burger and Chili Burgers but both were great. Also the BBQ Pork and NY Strip steak sandwiches were tops.
The salmon, crab cakes and ribs have passed before me many times. But I just realized I’ve never tried a steak here. Well, we will have to make sure that it taken care of this year. And I already see the one I want. The Brewmiester Steak. Guess I’ll have to take the family next time to have my Son and Son in-law do a beer sampling/review. I’ve always enjoyed taking our parents and kids there so it covers the range of needs. And I’m guessing everyone knows about the bar side because that place always seems to be hoping whenever we go in.
Random thoughts for Wednesday July 8th, 2015
It seems like every commercial during the day is trying to take advantage of some older person for final arrangements or some kind of medical coverage. For middle-aged people we have the accident chasers or medical malpractice. And for the youth the promise of a great job through this or that online school.
It is better to be able to appreciate things in life, than have adversity set you back to make sure you have the proper perspective and respect for everything.
It was nice to pick up my camera again to FOCUS on an image instead of the pain and recovery issues. Even those will be there a while. I now have the ability and desire to shoot again.
I’m writing again. YES – lets see if I can sustain it again.
Sometimes my mind feels like these wild onions on Mondays. But I never know which one I will get. The one in focus and electric in the foreground or the unfocused and fuzzy one in the background. Actually cancer gives you a bit of both each day. It helps you sort out what is important in life and focus on those things. But at the same time it defused everything else. Time becomes kind of twisted. You have trouble focusing on the task at hand. Sleep becomes erratic. The mind is like an overtaxed race engine running at peak rpm in a race that doesn’t end until everyone collapses in exhaustion.
A wild onion and his friends. Photo by Mike Hartley
The thing that I have noticed in this round of cancer is that I find it affecting my patience more. I used to try to find a middle ground in situations but now I find myself standing at the extremes at times. And I don’t care to be there because I don’t consider myself indifferent or aggressive.
And while I couldn’t be more impressed with the state of medical technology/knowledge/experience and all the treatments that are offered, I have learned that each one of us is like our own individual medical library or more precise “Experiment”. For each of us are so unique and the possibility of infinite variables even in the “known” areas is staggering.
I marvel at the skill and knowledge and constant progression a medical career takes. It makes me think of the dedication it takes to keep treating each patient as an individual and not as a number on an assembly line.
But what I marvel at is there is NO certainty that anything you have done medically is completely effective or without many risk. You learn those things clearly when you go through “the process.” You know, I think that needs to go in the book as one of the top things that can happen in life. For someone to go through LIFE and skip “The Process.”
Howard County FOOD –
We have been eating at The Canopy the last few decades and have always enjoyed it very much. Well technically we don’t eat at the Canopy because its pretty much a carry out, but you get the drift. I’ve sampled just about every menu item they offer and its all very good. Of course I’m a fan of the pit beef but I also have favorites in the pit ham, baby back ribs and beef ends in BBQ sauce. And of course the Ocean FRIES. I always order my fries “crispy.” The coal slaw is great. Oh yeah, try the wings and potato salad.
About the only thing I haven’t had there is the crab soup. And I think I’ll remedy that next week. But if you want the cream of crab, that is only on Friday and Saturday’s.
The Canopy Photo by Mike Hartley
Random thoughts for Monday June 15th.
Don’t ever forget to tell your family and friends how much you love them. That would be a horrible regret to have at the end if you miss the opportunity.
You don’t learn by walking away from problems.
While it’s always nice to look ahead and think about all the change and wonder in the future, I prefer to live in the here and now.
Now that I’ve worked 5 decades I’m left wondering what the hell these management schools are teaching people?
Driving is very fun. Driving to DC is not fun.
Another slide from my parents below. I believe it was dated 1953.
I love this great state of Maryland. One of its wonderful resources is the Maryland Blue Crab. I love them. I like to catch them, I love to eat them and eat them and eat them. So therefore I am part of the problem and solution I guess.
Actually I had just intended to post a picture of some crab balls we made recently at a friend’s home. That was to go along with the rockfish we caught that day. I’d love to go on and on about the different styles and techniques of cooking or using crab in many types of dishes but I think I’ll take the opportunity to remind us all that mother nature isn’t attuned to the supply and demand needs and nor is the general public good at adapting to mother natures change.
Maryland Crab Photo by Mike Hartley
What triggered this though was the report from Mitch at Exploratorius. This got me thinking about the responsibility we all have in helping nature along because it for most part is our food supply. Yeah you can set catch limits. But what accounts for people poaching or kills from run off and pesticides. Then there is industry and the number of people the region can support threatening the bay all the time.
So while I will eat my favorite crustacean, I will be mindful that I may have to decrease my intake in coming years. Prices alone may take care of that. And hats off to Mitch for making us aware of this issue. And lets hope that it’s a great season coming up and its our science of measurement that needs improving. But I don’t think so unfortunately.
Good meal, good friends, freezing temps. Well restaurants can’t control the weather outside or the friends you have but they certainly have the reigns for the food. And Catonsville Gourmet does a great job. Both the service and food are very good and it seems to be evident with the crowds that were there.
The place was hoping and they were slinging the food. The wait and kitchen staff seem to be like a well oiled machine. I’ve had both seafood and steaks here and you won’t go wrong with either but I would suggest the seafood because of all the specials they have and various ways, styles, sauces you can combine. The seafood itself is wonderful and whomever is picking it or the place that they get it from is doing a great job. The BBQ bacon wrapped shrimp skewers was a great start. The Grouper St Martin entrée was one of the best I’ve had ever. And I’ve eaten a lot of fresh caught Grouper fishing in Florida so I know the freshness, preparation and style was perfect.
Desert was an Amaretto/Raspberry cake which was also the tops. This was our 4th visit there and each time I very impressed and I keep having meals that top the last time which is hard to do being I’m very pleased each time I leave. Trying new things always comes out great.
I have to mention the service again. Very knowledgeable, very attentive and very good at keeping you posted on progress and checking on the quality of each dish. Refills were always coming before I even gave it a thought.
To me the place has a homey feel. It can be a little loud when packed. I thought it was great they had a space heater right near the front glass windows when the temps were in the teens and it would have been difficult to keep the temperature balanced for all people but that was a good touch. I didn’t even notice it till we were ready to leave.
I’ll certainly be returning.
Call ahead seating (30 minutes) take advantage of it.
Parking can be tight. There is a thin alleyway on the side and a good number of spaces right behind the building. It can be tight if you have a big vehicle.
You won’t feel rushed. There can be a wait, they are getting more and more popular.
You have to BYOB. Liquor store right across the street in case you forget.
They have a great number of oysters and ways of preparing so if you like them, get them.
Try the seafood.
Good list of specials each day.
Save room for deserts. Get up out of your seat and walk back to the case they have some of the cakes/pies and other treats in. Can you say Sugar Bakers Bakery and Smith Island cakes? They can.
Oh. almost forgot the great start – the bread is excellent.
Some times you just got to eat right and spend a day with your best friends and watch the big game and you know the rest. And that is what I did yesterday. And here is the proof below in the photos of the food we cooked up before the game. This put a serious crimp in my plans to do some night shots on the way home from the game.
But just to maintain the true spirit of the Post. I’ve included a few reflections shots of one of my favorite Italian Restaurants Portalli’s in downtown Ellicott City from a warm summer day in mid August this past year.