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This week’s virtual tour will help you appreciate all we are

 

 

 

Unless your viewing technology has advanced beyond television, you know all about how friendly local visitors opening their arms, shops and cultures for happy travelers on riverboat cruises. Whether it’s all too good to be true is not today’s point (though I am curious). This week Bay Weekly invites you to tour equivalent of Chesapeake Country.

Yes, ours is a virtual tour — in one sense of the word. But at the same time it’s literal, as you’re likely to tour via the printed page rather than computer — though either medium will take you there. Either way, what I mean is that you’ll get the inside scoop, though, alas, not the riverboat or its amenities. 

Instead, you’ll travel on the ever-magic carpet of reading into the business district of the small-town Chesapeake village of Bay Weekly partners. Chesapeake Country is not Corfu, Greece; Bergen, Norway; Beri, Italy; or the towns and villages you remember from way back, where color, life and shops full of more than you could imagine crowd together in a package of excitement.

Chesapeake Country’s history endures in our pattern of settlement, remembering plantations that were fiefdoms in themselves, linked less to one another than to the rivers and Bay, where commerce streamed. We remain a mostly sprawled-out experience, with most shops and services their own little entities, others linked in twos and threes or little shopping centers. 

So you can visit this village only in Bay Weekly pages. 

Every week, advertising partners come together in our pages. But this week is different. Most weeks of the year, they appear in advertisements, which draw your attention like billboards, flashing their name and, typically, timely specials on offer. This week, the people behind 60-plus of those shops and services stand in their doorways and invite you in.

It’s as if they’ve taken on the roles of those Corfu bakers, Beri baristas and Bergen fishmongers. Come in, they say, and let us tell you about what we do and who we are. 

Most, you’ll learn, got into their business because it’s what they do best or love most. 

In the words of Bobby Jones, inventor and proprietor of two Chesapeake Country restaurants, The Point in Severna Park and Ketch-22 in North Beach-Rose Haven says, “I love this business, love making good food and being around great people.” 

Many are tied to their work by a family story. Thus Teresa Schrodel and brother Frank Radosevic grew up helping their father William and mother Annamaria in the art businesses that evolved into Medart Gallery in Dunkirk.

That’s also the case of the Tice family of En-Tice-Ment Farm, who continue a five-generation tradition of farming, adapting generation by generation to change and culture. 

It’s true, too, that Dan Mallonee of Bay Country Crabbing, learned his trade as a boy from his grandfather.  

Others, like Jones, figured out what they could do best. For Cynthia McBride of Main Street Gallery in Annapolis and Benfield Gallery in Severna Park, that was an art-based business that could move with her husband’s career. 

And you won’t be surprised to learn that Steven Graham of Independent Tree Care loves trees. 

Among the entrepreneurs you’ll meet are successes in other fields who reached out to see what they could do in a whole new environment. The Gregories, Jack, wife Dee and daughter Cassie, stretched from all the way from plumbing, CSA Plumbing in Calvert County, to dairy-free soft serve in opening Jango’s Frozen Treats in the real Chesapeake Country town of North Beach. 

Some of the people you’ll meet in the village of our business guide are old timers. Smyth Jewelers dates back to 1914, Essex Bank to 1920, Bowen’s Grocery to 1929 and Happy Harbor to 1933.

Two, Jesse Ramirez and Jayleen Fonseca, opened their restaurant, Jesse Jays in West River this year. 

We’ve listed them all from oldest to newest so you can enjoy, as we have, this history lesson in miniature. Our own small business, Bay Weekly, founded in 1993, has passed a quarter century.

Meeting all these business owners on their own terms, you’ll be impressed, perhaps awed, by their entrepreneurial imagination and daring. You’ll be rooting for them to keep right on. You’ll be forming ties that make shopping locally a commitment rather than a slogan. 

When we get to know one another, we appreciate our community as much as all those seemingly ideal places to which we travel.

Read on …

 

Sandra Olivetti Martin

Editor and publisher

[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com

 


Introducing Mary Ann Jung; Remembering Valerie Lester

In this week’s packed paper, you’ll read about Mary Ann Jung, a woman of many faces. I won’t say introduce, because you’ve likely already met her. Actress Jung impersonates her history-making women far and wide. You might have seen her — and them — live in festivals, schools, libraries, museums, senior centers, conferences as well as in in-between stops at, say, the grocery or mall. Next week, she introduces a new character, Irish Pirate Queen Captain Grace O’ Malley at a Chatauqua event at Severn Library.
    I won’t tell you any more of Jung’s first person story, for I don’t want to steal her thunder or deprive you of the pleasure of reading her words for youself.
    It’s another woman of many faces I’ll introduce here. For some of you, it will be a re-introduction. Valerie Lester made her presence known with us in many ways during the years she and husband Jim lived in Annapolis Roads. Among those ways was as a Bay Weekly contributing writer, a role in which she flashed a new face in each appearance.
    If you watched the Annapolis Fourth of July parade during the last decade of the last century and the first of this century, you saw Val. She strutted and sweated in the parade along with instructor Lisa Malone’s Jazzercise class.
    “It is so much fun to dance down Main Street,” said Val, who called herself one of the Jazzercise group’s older members, interviewed for our 2002 feature Everybody Loves a Parade.
    “There’s no traffic, and you’ve got this great view from the top looking out over the water. Even in the rain it’s fun. In fact, it’s even better, because you’re cool.”
    I got to know the Val of another face, as we were drawn together by our love of words and stories. If memory serves me, we got together over her second book, Phiz, the Man Who Drew Dickens. Phiz — formally Hablot Knight Browne — was for 23 years the illustrator who brought Charles Dickens’ words to life. He was also Valerie Browne Lester’s great-great-grandfather, and dutifully and enthusiastically, she devoted eight years to bringing him back to life in her biography.
    Our July 2006 story introduced Phiz and Val the sleuth to Bay Weekly readers (www.tinyurl.com/Phiz-Val). But readers back then already knew her in the many other faces she revealed as a Bay Weekly contributing writer.
    A great listener, Val loved other people’s stories as much as her own. So I assigned her fascinating characters. One was astrophysicist Peter Perry of Harwood, who she introduced in the story Yes, It’s Rocket Science (www.tinyurl.com/yxm4ual2). Another was midshipman Stephanie Hoffman of the class of 2005, herself a woman of many faces. We chose her to profile because both Val and I had seen her extraordinary portrayal of Lady MacBeth in the Naval Academy Masqueraders’s steamy production
(www.tinyurl.com/y2qskf8m). When Val interviewed Stephanie, she was training as a Navy flyer.
    Val had her own flight stories to tell. She combined her experience as a Pan Am flight attendant in the early 1960s with her usual thoroughgoing research to write Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin. But her interest in flight began in utero, she wrote and shaped her life, both broadly and specifically.
    England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are island nations. The vast waters around them seem to call and certain of those islanders — or so I have observed — to leap into the wider world. Val’s parents were of that sort. She grew up in Jamaica, went to boarding school in England, signed on to fly internationally and traveled and lived comfortably around the world for the rest of her life. After she left Annapolis in 2009, we in her worldwide network of friends would hear from her in Italy, England, Singapore — who knew where.
    Val as the intrepid world traveler fascinated me — and occasionally set off spikes of envy — as I sat year after year at my same desk, producing issue after issue of the same paper. She was, I think, at home any place in the world.
    The specific consequence of her flight years was her husband. She met James Lester in the air, working his return flight from Mount Everest, where he’d talked his way into Base Camp as the first psychologist interacting on site with climbers.
    Encountering the Lesters in Annapolis, where they’d decided on something of a lark to retire after raising two children and living years in D.C., I couldn’t tell who to be more impressed with, Val or Jim. Like me a native St. Louisan, Jim had broken out into the wider world in ways as spectacular as his wife’s. He was also an author. As a psychologist, he’d worked with Timothy Leary about whom, late in life, he wrote a book. A musician as well, Jim had also had to his credit the Oxford University Press book Too Marvelous for Words: The Life & Genius of Art Tatum.
    I never could get Jim to write for Bay Weekly, but I ranked Val quite the catch.
    When Val decided to translate the French novel Le Grand Meaulnes as her third book and she became too busy for Bay Weekly features, she continued offering us shorts and reflections revealing many more of her faces.
    She might write in praise of local garden clubs (www.tinyurl.com/gardenclubs).
    Or in praise of kale, as in “The other day, I dashed into the supermarket and came to a screeching halt in front of the most dazzling display of kale …” (www.tinyurl.com/in-praise-of-kale)
    She might tell a ghost story in poetry (www.tinyurl.com/y4o67jtw).
    Complain about the foxes digging up her garden (www.tinyurl.com/fox-digging).
    Or describe the heroism of a young neighbor who’d snatched her Chihuahua from the claws of an eagle (www.tinyurl.com/snatched-Chihuahua).
    My favorite of her paeans to daily life stretched me far beyond my daily life. It was a little contribution to a What We Want for Christimas story, titled To Knit the Raveled Sheeve of Care (www.tinyurl.com/BW-christmas-2005).
    Val left Annapolis, with Jim, when ALS began to take away his independence. They had less than one more year together.
    Then Val took flight again, revealing many more faces as she delighted in life and created three more books each one so particular that no one but she could have imagined them: biographies of the type-designer Bodani, the botanist Clarence Bicknell and a historical novel, The West Indian.
    She came to the end of her many travels on June 7 in Hingham, Mass. Her children were at her side.
    With her death, the world is duller and many hearts heavier.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com


To Knit the Raveled Sheeve of Care

by Valerie Lester
bayweekly.com/old-site/year05/issuexiii50/leadxiii50_1.html

 

Links. Not sausage links. Not golf links. But links between people and places. I’ll tell you a story that illustrates what I mean.
    Recently, in the face of the enormity of the earthquake that struck Pakistan, Kashmir and northern India, with all the force of a nuclear explosion, I felt wretchedly impotent. What can a person do in the face of such horror? Send money, of course, and I intended to do that. But I became obsessed with the idea of actually participating in the effort to help.
    Reason, of course, intervened. A 66-year-old woman flying to Islamabad with packets of food and clothes tucked into bags and the interstices of her coat, demanding to be taken to the epicenter, might not exactly be General Musharraf’s idea of aid. But with a harsh winter approaching in the mountains of the region, the idea of contributing something real was persistent.
    Eventually, I dug out my bag of yarn and started crocheting a scarf of many colors. Shortly thereafter, I set off on a trip to England and crocheted my way across the Atlantic. (My crochet hook is short and discreet. It’s made of aluminum and doesn’t set off airport security alarms the way knitting needles sometimes do.)
    I finished the scarf in Shaftesbury (which is a lovely town in Thomas Hardy’s Dorset countryside). There’s an Oxfam shop on the main street, and I took my scarf there. The shop is staffed by delightful, very elderly ladies, who do a brisk trade in second-hand goods and holiday cards. Taking pride of place in the center of the counter was a collection box whose label announced Earthquake Appeal. Yes! I stuffed some money into it (priming the pump, as it were, for the reception of my somewhat dubious gift), then produced my somewhat raffish scarf, asking the ladies if there was a way to send it to the earthquake victims. They didn’t laugh, bless them.
    “Will Afghanistan do?” they asked. “Some volunteers are putting together shoe boxes and shipping them there?”
    Afghanistan. It’s cold and miserable in the mountains there too, so even though it wasn’t my first choice, Kashmir, I agreed. Then I looked around the shop and bought several boxes of Christmas cards. On a whim I asked if they had any donations of yarn. They had a crateful. I dug through it and found a dozen balls of excellent navy wool.
    There’s a chain here: Someone donated leftover yarn, Oxfam accepted it, I bought it and am now nearly three feet into an enormous scarf.
    This time I’m going to make sure it gets to an earthquake victim in Kashmir. Does anyone know how I might? That will forge another link, and that is what I want for Christmas.

A brilliant topic

A peacock’s tail is actually brown. But it possesses structural surface properties that create a bright rainbow of hues. The colorful display is due to iridescence.
    The simplest example of iridescence is the colorful shine of a drop of oil floating on water. When the oil film is thin enough, light gets bent as it hits the oil-water interface in a process called refraction. That light may be only one wavelength, one color, as determined by the thickness of the oil. The thinner the oil, the shorter wavelength of light that bounces back. The thicker spots are reddish and the thinner bluer.
    Animals of all sorts have created structural coloration not from pigments. In some, like a snake called the rainbow boa, it is from a thin film that changes thickness and color as the snake stretches and compresses while moving. Other colors are created by a static bio-coating or structures that create refraction of a particular wavelength, as with the peacock or the throat patch of a ruby-throated hummingbird.
    The angle of the light hitting the throat patch sometimes hits that sweet spot where the refraction amplifies the bounced light. In the photos presented here —taken within two minutes — the light was too bright for my camera’s sensor. 
    Iridescence is used for coloration by many plants and animals. It is, however, uncommon in mammals. 
    Look around and decide if the color you see is due to pigment or to light-bending iridescence.

The many buckeye trees are ­pleasing to the eye, too

The most magnificent horse chestnut is Aesculus parviflora: the bottlebrush buckeye. This native shrub attracts pollinators extraordinarily. I planted it several years ago along a sunny fence; it now takes up an area about 20 feet long by 10 feet wide.
    It blooms June to July with beautiful candelabra-like white flower spikes that are abuzz with all kinds of native bees and beneficial flies. The peachy-pink pollen exudes a delicate fragrance into the air.
    The flower spikes are followed by smooth red-brown chestnut-like seeds. Beautiful but not edible for humans, the seeds are valued by many small mammals and insects. The horse chestnut’s native range is southern Virginia to ­Georgia and eastern Alabama and Tennessee, but it does very well in Maryland.
    Aesculus sylvatica is the painted buckeye. It likes partial shade to sun and has similar growth habits to the bottlebrush buckeye. The flowers have shades of yellow, red, green and pink and are four- to eight-inch-long clusters in mid-spring.
    Aesculus pavia is the red buckeye. It likes moist, well-drained soil in sun to shade. It has a shrubby habit, forming a rounded mound about 20 feet high and wide. The red flowers are an inch and a half long, tubular and form four- to eight-inch-long terminal clusters in mid-spring. The fruit has a smooth husk, splitting open to release one or two glossy brown seeds. In flower, this plant is a hummingbird magnet. Its natural range is the coastal plain from North Carolina to Florida and Texas.
    Aesculus glabra is the Ohio buckeye, which is a large tree up to 75 feet high that grows in sun to partial shade. The flowers are greenish yellow and tubular in a four- to seven-inch-long terminal stalk. The fruit is a prickly husk that splits open to release seeds that are glossy and rich brown. Its natural range is western Pennsylvania throughout the middle states.
    Don’t confuse these native species with Aesculus hippocastanum, the medicinal horse chestnut that is native to the Balkans and western Asia. The Turks used those nuts to treat respiratory ailments in horses. Today, extracts are made into standardized horse chestnut pills used to treat hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It is anti-inflammatory, astringent and internally strengthening to the blood vessels.
    The seeds of all Aesculus species are poisonous.


Maria Price-Nowakowski runs Beaver Creek Cottage Gardens, a small native plant nursery in Severn.

Traveling Americans learn why you should first check Trip Advisor

Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are not a happy couple. Despite years together, she worries he will leave her. He wants to, but he doesn’t want the bad guy rep.
    Before he can work up the nerve to go, tragedy strikes, leaving Dani in a deep depression. Stuck playing the doting boyfriend while complaining to his pals, he insincerely invites Dani along on his boys’ trip to Sweden. Nobody’s happy when she agrees.
    The destination is a rare Midsommar festival in remote northern Sweden, where graduate student friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) grew up. The festival holds a wealth of thesis material for anthropology student Christian and his friends.
    The Americans are welcomed to the isolated community by joyous people with open arms and hallucinogenic teas. Their gracious hosts and odd customs charm the students.
    But as customs become odder, the outsiders wonder what the purpose of this Midsommar festival is.
    Midsommar solidifies director Ari Aster (Hereditary) as one of the most fearless and fascinating filmmakers working today. He turns the horror genre on its ear. There is plenty of gore, tension and good acting but few surprises. The point isn’t the end. It’s the journey.
    Midsommar considers toxic relationships and our need to find community, even at the cost of compromising ourselves. Aster employs no jump scares, and he rarely relies on overly dramatic music. Still, there is plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat, as he takes us on a long, gruesomely disturbing march.
    Camera work makes this film a triumph. Aster employs sweeping wide shots and careful, subtle CGI to make the film a living thing. Blossoms seem to breathe, the hills ripple in unnatural ways and faces in the friendly crowd of villagers are slightly misshapen. This eerie effect makes everything unsettling.
    Also a cut above is Pugh’s astounding performance as Dani. Swinging from desperation to animalistic grief, she is a raw nerve of a woman who clings with her fingernails to signs of affection. She’s mesmerizing as she uncovers the secrets of the Midsommar festival.
    Despite my raptures, Midsommar is not for everyone. It’s unrelentingly brutal, subjecting viewers to well over two hours of pitch black humor. It’s a movie meant to evoke a response, and in my theater responses were pretty diverse. Midsommar is a movie for viewers who appreciate artistry over expediency — and don’t mind a few split skulls along the way.

Great Horror • R • 147 mins.

~~~ New this Week ~~~

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable
    Thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton’s arm was bitten by a tiger shark. Many people would have quit surfing; Bethany viewed it as a minor setback. She learned how to surf without an arm to balance her and became a pro.
    In this documentary, the surfer, mother and advocate for cleaning the oceans shares her secrets for a happy, productive life.
    It should be an inspiring flick. If you’ve got kids with big dreams, this might be the movie to convince them to follow them.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 98 mins.

Crawl
    Haley (Kaya Scodelario) searches for her father as a hurricane floods her town. She finds him trapped and injured in their house. Fearing they’ll drown before help arrives, Haley seeks a way out.
    What she finds is a giant alligator.
    Fans of schlock horror and goofy CGI effects may find entertainment in one woman’s battle with an alligator.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 87 mins.

Stuber
    Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is an Uber driver hoping to earn quick cash and a five-star rating. He’s expecting rides to the mall or the movies when Vic (Dave Bautista) jumps in his car.
    A cop obsessed with catching a killer, Vic is a bit of a loose cannon, offering Stu a gun and trying to rope him into his investigation. What will Stu do to avoid a one-star rating?
    Both Nanjiani and Bautista have proven themselves excellent comic talents. They can make almost anything funny, which is lucky, as this script lacks that quality and many others.
Prospects: Dim • R • 105 mins.

Live-lining Norfolk spot sacrifices a fish to catch a bigger fish

The Chesapeake tide was ebbing to almost placid. Rockfish prefer their dinner be swept to them by moving water. But in this case the stalling currents allowed them more freedom to gather around the structures where we were fishing. Our bait was their favorite snack this time of year, Norfolk spot.
    Tom Schneider and I were drifting on just the slightest of current, aided by a mild southern breeze just off of one of the Bay Bridge’s more complex, eight-legged supports. Pinning 6/0 Gamakatsu circle hooks lightly just in front of small spots’ dorsal, we both flipped our fish over the side. The little guys jetted toward the bottom 20 feet down.

Fish Finder
    The rockfish bite is excellent for every type of technique. The one fly in the ointment, particularly on the Eastern Shore, is that the fish are concentrated in just a few areas. Commercial hook-and-liners in the same locations as recreational anglers can wipe out entire schools of fish with their mass live chumming and combined quota tactics.
    As Maryland Department of Natural Resources is financed largely by recreational funds and as recreational anglers outnumber commercials by almost 1,000 to one, it’s surprising to find the two factions in the same areas.
    White perch are here and there, but no one is bragging this season. Norfolk spot have arrived in good numbers but are mostly live-lining size. Croaker are generally missing this year. Crabbing in the mid-Bay is lackluster.

    Using medium-action casting rods with small Abu reels spooled with fresh 20-pound mono and even fresher 25-pound fluorocarbon leaders, we could feel the spot, unencumbered by weight, pulsing down. We had to be careful not to give them too much slack or they would circle the nearest column and foul the line.
    The most serious activity for the baitfish was evading the stripers that lurked among the concrete piers awaiting any small fish, crab or morsel of seafood. We already had two fish in the box, 22- to 23-inch specimens, a perfect size for dinner. But we were hoping for some larger adversaries and had moved a number of times seeking them.
    Aside from location, a number of factors can tweak the game in the favor of the angler. Sometimes shifting the hook location in the bait can change things up by making the baitfish’s actions more enticing. A nose- or mouth-hook position on the spot triggers an attack by rockfish. A more rearward hook placement, such as behind the dorsal fin or on the underside, can also affect their swim movements.
    The best live-lining presentation is always weightless. But if it becomes necessary to add weight, the absolute minimum that will get the bait to the level desired is always superior. I prefer to use split shot or rubber core sinkers well up on the leader. When the tide is really roaring, I’ve found switching to a heavier soft plastic or metal jig is more productive than attempting to present a live bait.
    On this outing last week, our problem seemed to be simply a preponderance of barely legal fish eating our baits. We kept moving from pier to pier, thinking that the bigger fish would be by themselves or in small groups and not hanging out with the little guys. Eventually we blundered onto them.
    My spot suddenly stopped its wiggling swim and morphed into slow and powerful acceleration. Lifting the rod tip, I stopped my line and hoped that the circle hook would find its place in the predator’s jaw. A hissing drag and an arcing rod indicated that it had.
    Next the beast altered its direction and headed back across the nearest pylon. Putting my motor into gear, I nudged the skiff forward to lessen the line’s bearing on the structure, thanking my stars that there was little current to complicate things. When my rod tip and line cleared the column, the fish really began a run. But now its path was toward open water beyond the column. I snugged the drag down and added thumb pressure.
    The fight was brutal, but within a few long and strenuous minutes, the fish was alongside the boat. But it evaded the net. Catching a glimpse of the hook firmly in the corner of its jaw, I relaxed.
    Eventually worn out, the big fish slid into the net. The handsome 32-incher came onboard and into the box, making the two keepers already in ice seem mighty small.
    Within a few minutes both Tom and I were hooked up, again with powerful fish.
    Tom’s 30-incher eventually went into the box, and my 27 was set free to swim another day, hopefully educated to the treachery of a free meal.

How to ace summer’s BBQ competition

 

     Step outside on any warm Maryland evening, and there is a very good chance you will find the aroma of food cooking on a neighbor’s grill. We have a love affair with grilling and barbecuing. Almost six percent of us grill more than once a week.

    George Stephen Sr. of the Weber Brothers Metal Works created the first barbecue kettle grill in 1952. Today grill and barbecue sales total almost $1.5 billion per year, according to the Statista Research Department, and 75-percent of us own some kind of grill. U.S. Census statistics show 79 million of us cook outdoors at least once a year, with July Fourth the most popular holiday for barbecuing.

    We have all been to our share of bad barbecues, with dry, hockey-puck hamburgers that could break a window, and wrinkled, charred hot dogs that get harder to choke down the longer they sit on the plate. Maybe you were promised some fantastic smoked brisket or ribs, and you are still waiting to eat at 9pm. If you are going to stand at the grill to feed the crowd, there are some rules to keep in mind.

Grilling vs. Barbecuing

     There is a difference between grilling and barbecuing. “Grilling is mostly hot dogs and hamburgers, maybe some steaks and vegetables,” says Chris Keller, owner of Red, Hot and Blue restaurant in Annapolis. “Barbecue is a long process with proper temperatures, even heat and [cooking] over some kind of wood.”

    All the experts know that essential difference.

    “Grilling is a hot and fast method of cooking directly over the fire. Hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, chicken, steaks: Short cooking sears the outside of smaller portions of meat and vegetables,” says Pitmaster and Mid-Atlantic Barbecue Association Board Member Bob Trudnak.

     Traditional barbecue is a different process.

     “It is the method of slow-smoking large cuts of meat over lower heat and often indirect,” Trudnak says. “The slower process of cooking tough cuts of meat to break down the muscle fibers, results in juicy, tender cuts such as ribs, brisket and pork shoulder.”

The ABCs of Better BBQ

     All of the experts agree that the No. 1 mistake we make when barbecuing is cooking at a high temperature.

     “A lot of times, people overcook their barbecue. Too much heat, too quickly. The secret is slow and low,” says Ray Chick, co-owner of West River Pit BBQ. “The biggest mistake? Cooking at a higher temperature to get it done. Barbecue is intended to be a long, slow process. Never quick.”

     Trudnak suggests creating a timeline from grill to consumption. To avoid guests waiting for the food to be done, start backwards from the time you want to serve the food and allow plenty of rest time for your meats. 

A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way

     Barbecuing is something everyone “thinks they can do,” Keller says. “But people who do it well have done the research.” The successful BBQ chef needs to know what internal temperatures are ideal for each cut of meat. For beef, medium-rare is about 130 degrees. Pork chops and tenderloin are at medium when they reach an internal temperature of about 150 degrees. For chicken, dark meat is ready at 170 degrees, while white meat is done at 160 degrees. Fish is ready to serve at 135 degrees.

     Use tongs to move food around on a grill, not a fork.

     “Don’t stab it!” Diane Pierpont, co-owner of West River Pit BBQ, says. “For a steak, six minutes on each side. Don’t flip it and flop it back and forth. Poking it with a fork will let all of the juices out, especially after you have a nice sear.”

     A good dry rub is a great thing when it comes to seasoning. The experts say it is best to experiment with a few different flavor combinations. Look at a few recipes and see what appeals to you.

     “We make our own,” says Chick. “But it’s really a matter of personal preference.” An even coating of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper helps your meat form a savory crust while it cooks. But hold off on the barbecue sauce or other ingredients, like garlic, that might burn.

     “Saucing meats prior to cooking them results in over-caramelized or burnt food,” Trudnak says.

     Pierpont adds, “The seasoning can burn and bake in there. All you’ll have is char.”

     In the external debate over whether propane or charcoal grilling is best, most of those who barbecue for a living opt for charcoal or wood.

     “Charcoal adds a flavor touch you can’t get cooking over propane,” Keller says.

     Of course, wood and charcoal make smoke and there is such a thing as too much smoke. “Treat smoke like any other ingredient,” says Trudnak, “Don’t overdo it.”

Let It Rest

     If you have watched enough cooking shows, you have heard about letting meat rest after it is cooked. There is actually science behind that. When meat hits heat, the muscle fibers contract and moisture starts to get pushed out toward the surface. Cut into it right away, and much of that moisture will pool out, leaving the meat on the dry side. Larger pieces of meat will continue cooking for a bit after they are off the heat. Resting your masterpiece for a minimum of 15 minutes gives all of those juices time to redistribute.

Grill Your Vegetables

     Meat might get most of the attention, but do not hesitate to grill your vegetables. You will find it intensifies a vegetable’s natural sweetness. Steven Raichlen, who has written dozens of books on grilling, suggests you grill tender, watery vegetables like bell peppers, squash, asparagus and onions directly over the coals. Dense or starchy vegetables like sliced potatoes and eggplant are best cooked over indirect heat, or as far away from the coals as possible.

     Smaller vegetables, like cherry tomatoes, green beans or vegetables cut to a smaller size for a salad, can be grilled in a grill pan. You have probably seen these pans, which consist of a metal sheet with a rim and holes all along the bottom. You can improvise by popping some holes in a foil pan. 

    If vegetarian fare is on the menu, tofu, or bean curd, is a great option. Tofu tends to stick to a grill, so be sure to oil or coat the rack with non-stick cooking spray. Use extra-firm tofu, and press it to remove a lot of the water it contains. Tofu can be marinated for at least 30 minutes in any type of marinade that suits your taste. If you are making your own, be sure to add a bit of sugar, rice wine vinegar or honey to help the tofu caramelize while it cooks. No need to worry about internal temperature, and you can expect your tofu to be done in about six minutes. 

Ready for the Big Show

     You have done your research. You have grilled and barbecued your favorite recipes to perfection, earning rave reviews. Is it time to try some competitive barbecuing?

     David Phelps is part of the competitive team Reynolds Racks, along with Mike and Debbie Reynolds. Debbie Reynolds, his mother, is a National Oyster Cook-off Champion, so competitive cooking runs in their blood.

     There is work to do before you get to the competitive circuit.

     “Your family and friends are going to tell you what you want to hear. You have the best ribs in the world. Your brisket is amazing,” Phelps says, “Until you get out there and actually start scientifically putting spices and rubs together, you are going to have a lot of lows. Be prepared for a lot of failure until you get it right.”

     Steep yourself in the culture of barbecue, pitmaster Trudnak says. “Go to a barbecue contest and ask questions. Take a judging class. Once you have the basic equipment, sign up for an amateur contest. Most of all, have fun.”

     On knowing what you’re up against, Phelps agrees. “Do your research. Make sure you know the panel of judges, their tastes.”

     He offers a tip on rubs and sauces you might not have thought of. “A lot of amateur judges like them sweet. Professional judges do not.”

 

Mexican Grilled Corn Elote

Corn-on-the-cob is a much-loved summer food. The bumper crops around Maryland make it plentiful for a season. Why not try something new? This preparation is a common street food in Mexico and many large cities in the U.S.

Husk the corn and toss it with some coarse salt and olive oil in a big bowl. Grill it for about 10 minutes over direct heat, making sure to turn it frequently so it does not burn. You want a nice char. After the corn has cooled a bit, roll it in mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise). Grate some cotija cheese (available at Shopper’s) and sprinkle it on the corn. Feta cheese is a good substitute if you cannot find cotija. Top with a few shakes of paprika and chili powder to taste. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 


Eight activities to keep you busy this summer … and that you can bring indoors when it rains

      Hosts of Memorial Day gatherings pray that the rain gods will stay away. Maybe their prayers will be answered. Or maybe not. So it’s a good idea to have activities that can be moved inside if need be. Best not to use a room with a crystal chandelier or a fish tank. These games can quickly be moved back outside when the sun returns.
 
Cornhole
     Everyone knows this game, though some know it as Bean Bag Toss. Invented in 1883 as a way to bring horseshoes indoors, it uses a gentler missile, bean bags, tossed by players at a slanted board 24 inches away for fun and 27 inches for tournaments. The object is to get your bags onto the board (one point) or in the hole (three points) without spilling your beverage. All ages. https://americancornhole.com
 
Ladder Ball 
     This game turns cornhole on a vertical axis and adds a cowboy lasso! Cowboy Cornhole? You toss a bola — two balls connected by string — at a three-rung ladder. The goal is to wrap your rope around the rungs. The top rung scores one point, the middle scores two points and the bottom three points. All ages; no horses required. https://ladderball.com
 
 
 
Beer Pong
     With or without alcohol, the goal is to toss a ping pong ball into a mug. The Paul Bunyan-style outdoor version uses volleyballs and trashcans. You don’t have to get drunk to play, but it helps in understanding the staggeringly convoluted and regionally diverse rules. https://bpong.com/wsobp
 
Spike Ball
     If volleyball and four-square had a child, it would be named Spike Ball. Slap a lightweight but bouncy plastic ball, a little bigger than a softball, onto a tiny trampoline and wait for the other team to slap it back. Most active of all games mentioned with acrobatic diving for balls. Indoor rules — no diving, play off walls, ceiling out, definitely cover the windows. You can also get Spike Buoy for the pool. https://spikeball.com
 
Kubb
     Pronounced coob — not cub or cube — Kubb is an ancient Scandinavian game nicknamed Viking Chess. First, you take a sword and slice your way through … no wait, that’s not it at all. Actually, you toss wooden batons to knock down an opponent’s wooden army (blocks) and ultimately wooden king. After the Vikings chopped down all the trees, they had to play the game by throwing femur bones at their enemy’s decapitated heads. Talk about a sudden-death playoff. Hugely popular in the Midwest. www.usakubb.org
 
KanJam
     KanJam is Corn Hole for the athletic, combining Frisbee-type tossing with taking out the trash. Throw the disc and hit the can for two points. If your partner deflects the disc and it hits the can, you still get two points. If your partner deflects the disc into the can, you get three points. A smaller version is available for indoor use.  www.kanjam.com
 
Flicken Chicken
     Flicken Chicken is one of the newer old games to come around, chicken tossing being one of the oldest professional sports next to Mongolian dead-goat chucking. You and a partner take turns trying to toss the rubber chicken into the pot. It is harder if the chicken is alive. All ages; no clucking or plucking required.
 
Mini-Foot Golf
     Foot Golf, played outdoors by kicking a soccer ball into a hole, is the second fastest growing game in the nation behind Pickleball. Both games are a little large for indoor play, but mini-foot golf, like putt-putt, will work with a smaller ball that doesn’t leave the ground. Despite the name, you don’t need small feet to play. www.footgolf.us

 

It’s a heavy order, but you need to do it

       It’s a mouthful. But you probably need to swallow the draft Phase III Watershed Implementation’s lumpy title for the sake of knowing what Maryland planners have in store for our Chesapeake.

         What we’re talking about, in case that title doesn’t tell you, is what’s coming to help us reach the 2025 “ultimate restoration deadline” the EPA set back in 2010. In essence, each state has gone on a pollution diet to keep from surpassing its Total Maximum Daily Load of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. 

         Dieting is always a long-term business, so each state had to develop its diet — here comes another mouthful — through three phases of Watershed Implementation Plans.

         We’ve moved with some success through Phase One and Phase Two to Phase Three. The job now is to “identify the strategies, opportunities and challenges in not only meeting the 2025 Chesapeake Bay Restoration targets, but also sustaining restoration into the future.”

         If that sounds vague to you, you’ll have to bite into the document itself to find specifics to chew on. Log on, and you’ll find the full plan and its six appendices plus summary guides in the Executive Summary and FAQs. Lots of graphs try to help you understand what words can’t seem to say in plain English.

         There you’ll learn that Phase Three focuses on reducing nitrogen because we’re on track to meet phosphorus and sediment goals. Wastewater treatment plants and farm fields are targeted to make the needed reductions.

         Climate change and population growth get a bit of attention. The Conowingo Dam, holding back the upper Susquehanna River’s huge pollution dump, gets a full three-point strategic attack.

         We’re asked to read, digest and report back by June 7, so the final Phase Three WIP (that’s Watershed Implementation Plan, as I’m sure you remember) can be issued by August 9.

         Public participation is key, so be a good Bay citizen and eat your spinach: www.tinyurl.com/MDE-phase-3.

Can Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method work for you?

      Do you dream of getting organized? Do you own a stack of books on organizing? Have you made attempts to declutter, only to be frustrated? Did you jump for joy when Netflix announced the Tidying Up with Marie Kondo series?
Marie Kondo has made a huge contribution to home organizing, and her concepts can be helpful to people trying to declutter.
 
Everyone needs to be responsible for their own space and things
       This principle doesn’t need adapting. It’s just what the doctor ordered for many households and for the women of the house who take on so much responsibility that planning, purchasing, storing, maintaining cleaning and disposal of all things belongs to her — whether or not she works outside the home. This Kondo rule means everyone learns how to do tasks like folding clothes and putting them away. Ideally, everyone in the household will be happier, having new life skills and an uncluttered house.
 
Keep only items that spark joy
      This one often causes eye rolling and jokes, such as what about my husband?
     Kondo recommends actually holding or touching each item, be it a pair of jeans or a book, and noticing if you have a zing of positive energy. If you have trouble applying this concept, find a few items that you recognize as joyful. Maybe it’s the rocking horse your father made you when you were a tiny child. The tail might be knotted and your teething marks on the ears, but you’ll never part with this.
      Remember: No judgment and no guilt. If the item you are conserving is high on joy, hooray! You have a keeper. If it feels like the opposite of joy, put it in one of these piles: donate, gift, recycle, trash and maybe sell.
 
Organize by category, not by area
      There is much merit to this concept. You can see all that you have in that category at once, and you are making progress toward storing like things in one place where you can find them (as opposed to all over the house).
     Take on areas that cause you the most angst. Does it take hours to get ready for work? Take on your dressing area. Are your kitchen counters so cluttered you are forced to clear a space to chop veggies? Take on the food prep area. Think of areas as the place where you do something, whether it’s office work or relaxing. Make the space work for that purpose.
 
About clothing
     Kondo directs all household members to make a pile of their clothing — all of it. Empty every closet, dresser and storage bin. Kondo wants each of you to be “shocked” at how much clothing you have. Then sort each item of clothing into piles, keepers first, then the other options.
     The goal is to have clothes together by type. All your shirts are hung together. All your socks are in the same drawer. Do you really need all 18 pairs of black slacks?
      I agree, by the way, with focusing more on the keepers and less on the things you are getting rid of. I like to use the word editing instead of purging. Purging feels like a loss; editing feels like enjoying your favorite things more.
     You say you don’t have a day or two (or more) to focus entirely on clothing? Instead, try taking on one storage place at a time, such as the coat closet or the kid’s closet. If you’ve only an hour or so, take a smaller storage area, such as one dresser drawer, and sort it.
 
Fold clothes in drawers so you can see them
      The beauty of this method is that when you open a drawer, you can see everything, and you can remove one item without messing up the others.
      Fold items in thirds lengthwise, then fold the bottom end up about one-third, then roll it up. Place in the appropriate drawer standing on end.
 
Place small boxes inside drawers
      Sorry, Marie, but for dividing up the space in drawers, dividers are the way to go. They leave no unused space and don’t slide around. On shelves, clear plastic bins that you can see into work better.
 
Thank discards for their service
     This one also gets eye rolling and jokes, like, Okay, I’m thanking these old, dirty socks with holes in them.
      Yet there is logic to it. It can help people with emotional attachment to let go of items. It also helps to teach respect for things.
      Kondo, who is Japanese, believes things have life energy, just as plants and animals do. You don’t need to believe this to understand that we all have a responsibility to only purchase things that we really like, need and use. Once we have them in our homes, we should care for them, storing them properly. Once the item is no longer useful or wanted, we should let it go. It does no good to purchase clothing that hangs in the closet, unworn, tags still on, year after year.
 
Thank your home
     To me, the message is to have gratitude, be mindful of what your home does for you and have a vision what your home could be. Work with your home so it supports you in what you want to become and so you are not held back or weighted down by things from your past.
 
 
 
Professional organizer Beth Dumesco has no choice but to live by these principles. She lives aboard her boat, M.Y. Compass Rose, in Tracy’s Landing.