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Our best family night at the theater — ever

Not all Christmas trees are equal

He has many faces; here you’ll see some

Where will he be on Christmas Eve?

Spoiler alert: Don’t let the kids read this

Venison is benison to area food banks

Like coffee, Bay stewardship may be an acquired taste

Percolate is a big word in Chesapeake futures.     Hereabouts, the same word once synonymous with how America made its coffee describes the best way for water from heaven, rainwater, and its gushing next stage, stormwater, to make its way back to our watershed. My mother’s percolator kept the brew cycling through the grinds, making coffee more watchable than drinkable as it spouted against the little glass top cap. In our watershed, drip coffee makes a better metaphor but...

Just a little care will do it

This summer, I harvested my biggest crop of garlic ever, with my elephant garlic the size of a baseball. I attribute my success to incorporating an inch-thick layer of compost just before planting, mulching the garlic with Maine Lobster Compost just before the ground froze and giving the garlic plenty of room to grow. I planted elephant garlic in a six-by-six-inch spacing and the Italian garlic in a four-by-six-inch spacing. Come summer, I stopped hoeing the weeds as soon as the foliage was...

You’ve got a treasure; take care of it

Back in the mid-1940s, the advent of the spinning reel made angling a popular America sport. Spin reels opened up light-tackle fishing to millions for the first time. The easy-to-use casting mechanism allowed anglers to throw their line, lure or bait a good distance without worry of tangles.     Penn spin reels became the saltwater standard of the day. By the mid-1970s, their price approached $100. This was a considerable sum, but they were rugged quality reels made in America....

This comic opera sparkles like sunshine on the sea with all the charm that made it a hit more than a century ago

You may have never heard of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert, but you’ve certainly heard of Gilbert and Sullivan. The two had a run of comic opera hits in England whose popularity propelled them across the pond to America, where that popularity was magnified. Because Gilbert’s father was a naval surgeon, life on the seas and the politics of power were often themes of the librettist. That’s certainly the case with H.M.S. Pinafore, the light yet acerbic jab at patrician politics...

The Holocaust goes on trial in this courtroom drama

An  historian specializing in the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz: The Light Between Oceans) becomes obsessed with people who deny the reality of that genocide.     Earning Lipstadt’s particular ire is historian David Irving (Timothy Spall: The Journey), a Hitler fan who claims the gas chambers of Auschwitz were made up. Irving is so offensive that Lipstadt decries his poor research and dubious motivations in her book on Holocaust deniers.   ...

The judges’ rule: Don’t overcook — or overwhelm — the oyster

On an ideal October weekend, up to 20,000 people thronged the 50th anniversary St. Mary’s Country fairgrounds for the U.S. Oyster Festival, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park. Festival-goers stood in long lines to gobble oysters raw and steamed and — if they were lucky — to sample the inventive recipes competing in the National Oyster Cook-off.     Oyster culinary creators from around the country have schemed and stewed for months to be among the...

Award-winning cakes are this third-grade teacher’s sideline

When Terry Tuttle went back to school, his third-graders at Shady Side Elementary had to settle for map studies instead of cake frosting.     Tuttle’s cake work begins after the kids run free at 3:40pm. Then, after his own children are settled into their after-school routine in his Churchton home, he creates masterpieces out of batter and frosting.     Today’s creation is a four-layer Italian buttercream with amaretto and almond flavoring.  ...

Every half-shell you save makes a home for 10 baby oysters

Oysters don’t like to live alone. “They are very social,” says Oyster Recovery Partnership executive director Stephan Abel.     They also like to be close to their families. Oysters grow up together, indeed bonded together, on reefs constructed by generations before them. With the destruction of reefs through centuries of all-out harvesting, new generations of oysters depend on us to supply new reefs of old shell for them to grow on.     One...

It takes a lot of preying to make so big a bug

In summer’s abundance, praying mantises grow like corn.     Emerging in spring warmth from their tan, papery egg masses, they are tiny, pale-green nymphs. By autumn, after several exoskeleton sheddings and many good meals, the tan, winged adults can be six or seven inches long.     The habit of folding their long forearms gives the species the name praying mantis. They might better be called preying for they use those arms to grasp food, mostly other...

For $1,000, maybe you should try

Could you write a play? It’s a tough job, as you’ve got to create plot, characters and conflict. Tougher still, you’ve got to do it all in dialogue.     Would winning a $1,000 cash prize make the challenge any easier?     The Colonial Players of Annapolis thinks it would. Thus the 67-year-old community theater company has put that premium on its 2016-’17 Promising Playwrights Competition. Win, and you get not only the money but also a June...