Welcoming Maryland’s Buy Local Challenge: the Governor’s cookout

Rather than being frozen in amber, Maryland’s classic bounty of land, sea and air is being used in modern cuisine. To kick off the Buy Local Challenge, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan hosts a competition of chefs, food producers, fishermen, farmers, culinary schools, etc., to provide recipes showcasing Maryland’s natural goodness. The winners get to present their creations at the annual cookout on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion. You can download the winning recipes HERE.

The challenge is to eat or drink at least one Maryland produced, grown or harvested item each day for a week. I eat at least one every day anyway, because I think it’s healthful to eat locally grown food and I dig (if that’s not too bad a pun) Maryland produce. With our state being 387 years old, our heirloom produce is really heirloom produce!

Who’s got the meats? We’ve got the meats! Bet you didn’t know that about Maryland! Lots of tender pork and beef abounded. One of the well-composed dishes, Korean Pork Tacos with Mexican Street Corn, was created by a culinary teacher at the Universities at Shady Grove (Susan Callahan), with two of her students (Courtney Richardson-McMurray and Senan Groudo). The texture of the cabbage, smoky meat, tender sweet corn, all worked well together. The amazing quality produce came from Chocolates and Tomatoes Farm in Montgomery County.

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Jeff Fritz, of Silver Wolf Private Assistance is a private chef in his “spare” time, when not an Active Duty Enlisted Aide to a General Officer in the Air Force! Nothing can beat the U.S. Air Force! Coincidentally, I was recounting to my neighbor just this evening my illustrious month in Air Force OTS. He made the luscious and culinary innovative Duck Stuffed Pork Roulade with Duck Egg Gnocchi in a Creamy BBQ Sauce. He used duck and pork from Liberty Delights Farm in Baltimore County. I’m really going to have to check out their products, because it’s very important to have excellent quality duck eggs: it makes a massive difference.

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Maryland’s seafood has impressed the likes of kings and queens long, long before we were the United States. Oysters are a particular favorite. Did you know “Chincoteagued” oysters are a particular way of harvesting them? The Chincoteague Bay has a higher salt content than areas in the southern part of the Chesapeake. Oysters from there have that delightful taste that’s more akin to New England or PEI oysters. Angels on Horseback were a tasty use of the bivalves. A recipe reportedly invented for Kaiser Wilhelm II, it was made super chic during the Kennedy administration.

Chef Roskovich of Black Diamond Catering in Wicomico County used Mumford Shellfish from Worcester County.

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Wanna hear something wild (or maybe, cultivated) and wacky? Anne Arundel County’s Windemere Farm grows mushrooms through log cultivation!

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The event always has an air of gentility, with flowers, live music.

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The First Lady, Yumi Hogan, enjoys sharing cuisine from her Korean heritage. Do you remember when she bravely went to the DMZ? Probably if she could share her cuisine there, there’d be instant kitchen diplomacy.

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On a day in the 90’s, Maryland’s thirst quenchers were well appreciated. George’s Bloody Mary mixes come in several varieties. I tried Mild with fresh horseradish, which was tasty before I promptly spilled the whole thing on my dress. Honest-T comes from Montgomery County. I did wonder if Deer Park water would be there . . . it was, but I learned this year that they’re sourcing water from all over the country. Boo!

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A great meal ends with dessert. I have to admit that I’m a fan of Kilby Cream ice cream in Cecil County. When I first adopted my mixed dachshund, Madam CJ, from Elkton’s A Buddy for Life, I stopped at Kilby Cream on the way back to Baltimore. Madam and I became BFFs! Although, earlier today, she was in the proverbial dog house. She knows why. Madam: no ice cream for you!

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As a little kid, I probably had some yucky, unripe melon. I swore them off for decades. I must admit, Maryland honeydew has really changed my mind! Mint Melon and Berries with Violas and Peach Shine Sabayon was delicate and refreshing. Christi Lathrop of Jillian’s Fare in St. Mary’s County created it. Russell Farms, Anchored Root Farm, Southern Trail Distillery, all from St. Mary’s County, were in the dish. I love the peach shine just for the bottle! I’ll be mad if I can’t find it in Baltimore.

I love St. Mary’s County, Maryland’s oldest. They keep it the way it was and I visualize the serenity of the first statehouse when I want to think of something peaceful. Margaret Brent was the first lady to act as an attorney in court, in 1648 and it was in St. Mary’s City. I’m a lady lawyer in Maryland, too!  I have a neighbor friend who is a direct descendant of Leonard Calvert and she is a very proper lady, I assure you.

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What if . . . I just ate Corny Cake, aka Eat Your Vegetables Cake, for all meals spanning a whole lost weekend? They do say you can substitute zucchini when luscious Maryland corn is out of season. I’m pondering this as a possibility. Don’t tell my mom. Young students at Crossland High School in Prince George’s County — Christopher Young, Justice Thurston (I’m expecting great things outta him with that great name!), Stephen Clark, Jordyn White, Sean Rohlfs and James Richburg — all worked with culinary teacher Muriel Homesack to create the delicious masterpiece and probably, my ultimate downfall. They used eggs and corn from Prince George’s County’s Millers Farms.

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