Friday, June 29, 2012

HoCo Rising blog fundraiser for the homeless

Usually this blog is about eating food.  Well, this post today will focus on people who don’t always have enough food - the homeless. 

Late Wednesday night, we learned about the HoCo Rising blog’s fundraising effort to raise $2,500 to help house four Howard County homeless men.  

The subject of homelessness was fresh on our minds since we just returned from a vacation to California where we saw so many homeless people.  They were old, young, tired, some with pets, some without shoes – being poor didn’t discriminate.  And the one thing they all had in common was being hungry. 

We went to bed thinking of how we could help.  

On Thursday morning we read that HoCo Rising fundraiser had met its goal of raising $2,500.  That means that four homeless men will no longer be living on the streets or in the woods. Even though they met their goal, HoCo Rising said he would still accept donations because there are so many more homeless people to help.

We devised a plan. Bake cookies. Sell them at a cookie and water bottle stand.  Our parents agreed to match whatever amount we raised. 

First we called the Giant in Dorsey Search to ask if we could sell our cookies in front of the store. The manager was very nice but said only organizations were allowed to sell things. But he said if we wrote him a letter, he would try to get us a gift card so we could buy our cookie ingredients.  We plan to  write the letter and donate the gift card to the homeless.

Then we called the Miller Branch Library and spoke to the manger, Susan Stonesifer. She said yes! 

Thursday night, we used our chore money to buy the ingredients and water bottles at Giant, baked 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies and made our signs and banner. 

This morning, we set up our cookie/water stand outside the Miller Branch Library main entrance at 10:00 am when it opened. 

In the three hours we were there, we met the nicest and most generous people. One man dropped a $20 bill into our donation container. We saw neighbors and classmates who contributed like the Baker, Sanidas, Jolles, Demme and Parekh families, Charles’s former basketball coach Mr. Conca, Thomas’s teacher Mrs. Pierantozzi. Plus our Grandma stopped by to donate. And tons of really nice people who we never met before. 

Lots of people asked what we were doing.  So, we told them we were helping a fundraiser started by HoCo Rising blog. We had copies of the HoCo Rising blog post about this fundraiser to hand out.  Some already knew about the fundraiser while others were glad to find out about it.  

In the end, we raised $97. We added $3 more dollars to make it $100.  In total, we donated $200 ($100 from the cookie stand and $100 matching contribution from our parents) to support HoCo Rising’s fundraiser. 

We hope this post will show others how easy it is to raise money for people in need.  Everyone should be able to have food and shelter.  

Thanks HoCo Rising for starting this fundraiser.  You are doing great work. We’d be happy to participate in it again.

If you would like to donate to the fundraiser click here. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FIG restaurant - Santa Monica,California

The Fig restaurant motto is "ingredients first." Located in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, the bistro certainly lives up to its motto. Since our hotel package came with breakfast, we ate their every morning. 
Fig restaurant head chef Ray Garcia coming back from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market with food for that day's menu. 

According to their website, their "menu is built around what is grown in season" which they buy from local farmers. We know this is true because we ran into Fig's head chef Ray Garcia at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Ray is one cool chef who was very eager to tell us about his restaurant.
Over the course of several days, we tried a few breakfast entrées (see below). It was cool that Fig made some of it's own products such as butter and syrup.
Scrambled eggs (the best we've ever tasted!), sausage, herbed potatoes and roasted tomato 
Fig makes some of it very own maple syrup and butter.
We loved these potatoes so much we asked the waiter how they were made He said they were baked with fresh oregano and garlic, and the onions are sautéed.
Toasted bread came served wrapped in a napkin. 
Lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry, almond butter, and syrup. My mom said it was the best pancake she had ever eaten.
Fig's homemade granola with fresh yogurt and strawberries.  
                                                         Charles eating the American Breakfest.

Fresh squeezed orange, grapefruit and cranberry juices served in these cool bottles. 

Grilled asparagus as a side dish

There was nothing we ate that didn't have the most fresh and pure taste.  Also, it was presented in fun and simple ways like the toasted bread served in a napkin.

We also ate dinner at Fig once during their “Fig at Five” special where everything on the menu including drinks is half priced if you order it before 6 o’clock. We don’t have dinner pictures to show you because we ate with friends and just enjoyed our meals.  But we can say that the food was just as good at dinner....and our parents loved the half priced value.

The restaurant got it's name from the historic fig tree that stands at the entrance to the hotel. Can you see how big the tree is compared to us standing at the tree base?

Overall, FIG restaurant was an adventure in itself. The restaurant space was very open, airy and comfortable especially the seating area overlooking the pool with ceiling to floor windows. And the food....was absolutely fantastic!!!!!!  We looked forward to getting up and going to the restaurant every morning.

FIG Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Charles gets a surprise for his 15th birthday

Charles celebrated his 15th birthday while we were on a family vacation in Los Angeles, California recently.

We had many Cali food adventures that we'll share with you.  But the highlight of our trip was .......

The hotel we were staying at - The Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica - found out it was Charles's birthday and surprised him with a chocolate cake delivered to our room.  The cake was presented on a platter that had "Happy Birthday Charles" written in chocolate!!!!

Moist chocolate cake layered with strawberry and chocolate
 filling covered in a rich chocolate ganache (chocolate & cream glaze) 

This is definitely the best chocolate cake we've EVER eaten.  Thank you Fairmont Miramar Hotel .... BEST HOTEL EVER!

More to come on the Fairmont Miramar's restaurant Fig in our next blog.......

Breezy Willow Farm CSA Dinner

What did we make for dinner with our  Breezy Willow Farm CSA vegetables, eggs and bread ????......

 Charles eating outside on our deck.  

Breezy Willow Farm fresh spinach with garlic & herbs and  store bought
roasted asparagus with parmigiano cheese 
Breezy Willow Farm romaine lettuce, cucumbers and mushrooms 

Mom's  herbed baked chicken 

We decided to also try the chicken cutlets in a sandwich with lettuce & mayo on the Great Harvest Rosemary bread that came with our  CSA share

Charles toasted his sandwich bread while Thomas didn't.
We liked it both ways. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our first week - Breezy Willow Farm CSA

Our family has belonged to Howard County's Breezy Willow Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for a number of years.  Breezy Willow is a certified organic farm located in West Friendship owned by the Caulder family.

Charles with farmer RJ Caulder.
She and her family (husband Ken, son Jason and daughter Casey)  own and operate
 Breezy Willow organic Farm in West Friendship 

What's a CSA?  It's when the community buys a "share"of what the farmer grows.  So, we signed up for their 24 week spring/summer CSA which runs from June to November.  Each week we get a huge selection of organic, seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables, local bread and eggs.

Why do we buy from a farmer rather than buy all our food in a grocery store? It's a win-win situation because we get better quality & better tasting farm food and we support farmers in our own county so they can stay in business. Plus, we get to know the farmers who actually grow our food.

He's how it works.  Once a week we go to Miller Branch library (one of their many Howard County pick-up locations in addition to their farm).

We sign in with the farmer at the check in table. Then we carry our bags and fill them with an assortment of farm produce from bins that are laid out in an assembly line.

This week we received the best strawberries EVER. Melt in your mouth strawberries that barley made the car ride home.
This weeks selections included cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, radishes, squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, beets, eggs and bread. 


At the end of the line we get to choose from a variety of Great Harvest Bread company breads including Challah, Cinnamon Chip, Honey Whole Wheat, rolls, blueberry loaf & more.  At the suggestion of the farmer we decided to try the Rosemary sliced bread.  He said that it was very dense, but if we used a toaster on a bagel setting we wouldn't be disappointed.  He wasn't was amazing!!!!

For more information on Howard County's Breezy Willow Farm click here ( and here (HowChow Blog) for reviews.  Or visit the farm website here