Easy Like Sunday Morning

I tend to be a morning person. I usually wake up before 5AM, sometimes before 4AM. I might be a bit sleepy and tired at first, but I’m usually perked up and ready for the day after about 3 or 4 minutes. This past Sunday morning, I was a bit off. I was not “feeling it” at all. I am not sure why, it’s just how it went. I don’t think it was due to the overtime loss of the Caps the night before. I don’t think it was due to the gloomy weather (which I prefer). Sometimes things just are a certain way and we can’t explain them.

I ran some errands early on, but being out and about in perfect Fall weather didn’t help. I had originally planned to drive down and visit the Sykesville Farmer’s Market, but I didn’t have the energy or the drive to do it. I knew I had to get myself out of this morning funk, so I went out the front door and started walking, with the intention of walking to the Farmer’s Market. When I first got outside, the temperature was a nice, cool upper 50s/lower 60s and slightly overcast, which is my kind of weather. But I was still not perking up. Then, I started to listen to the silence. There was noise, but it was not people or cars or a train or anything else. It was different birds, frogs, insects, and more. Just listening to the sounds of nature and then looking at the trees helped get me going in the right direction.

I walked around the Farmer’s Market very briefly. I just did a quick walk-through without stopping to chat or really look at anything. I decided to get a Pumpkin frappe at French Twist Cafe, which was good as usual. When I was waiting for my drink, a couple walked in. They said it was their first time there, but they had heard about the place before and wanted to try it. They asked me for my opinion, and my face just lit up. I let them know about the coffee drinks and the crepes, and how good they all are. I was sure that they would enjoy anything they got, and the quality would be outstanding. The couple seemed to be really excited about being there, and I completely understood. If I’m in a a new place and I’ve heard good things and the menu looks good, I get really excited. If I’m talking about food, I am usually in a happy place. So this was the final step of me getting out of my funk and feeling better about the day.

I walked home and just enjoyed all that nature had to show me. The squirrels were running around trying to snatch the nuts that were falling from the trees. There was a lot of rustling in the trees and the bushes, so there were some other creatures that were enjoying the day. I had a really nice time for that 20 minute walk home. This is despite the walk home being mostly uphill. But those 20 minutes were more appreciated than a 5 minute drive would have been.

Sometimes we have bad days. Sometimes we have bad moments. But if we can try to find ways to get the negatives out of our heads and bring in the good moments, no matter how brief, it can help make for a better day. I took a few pictures on my walk, and wanted to share them.

This is just a picture of some trees. They aren’t uniform, they aren’t standing out. They are just there. But that’s what I enjoyed about them.

I’m not sure if these are coming through very clearly. I took one picture of the tree and then a close up. There are huge nests on these trees. The first time I saw these, I was driving up the 97 and had no idea what they were. If they were spider webs, then those spiders must have been big (I’m thinking Lord of the Rings big). But they were all over the place and some were up to 3 feet long. I thought these were tent caterpillars, but they are apparently web worms. Not just for the Internet, I guess. 🙂 Still pretty cool to see, though.

I thought this nest was particularly fascinating. The picture doesn’t do justice to the intricacies of this structure.

I liked the colors on this tree.

I zoomed in so you could see the different colors. Yellow, green, light green, yellow with brown creeping in.

After I arrived home, I decided to take a picture from my enclosed patio. I have a really nice view, but don’t take advantage of this as often as I should. I have to clean up the chairs, since they have a lot of dust and pollen sitting there from the Summer. But this will be a nice area for me to just sit and read or reflect or listen, now that the temperatures are comfortable.

I may have started the day negative, but I was able to get out of it and end it feeling positive.

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Chili – Big Belly Deli – Sykesville, Maryland

Chili with Garlic Bread

I have written about Big Belly Deli in the past, and it’s a place I enjoy visiting. They had chili with garlic bread listed as their daily special, so I decided to go there for lunch. We are expecting some fall weather soon, so I thought this would be a good preview. The temperature today is just over 70, with some winds (10-15 mph). The winds were not making it hotter or colder, but were blowing around some pollen, which just adds an extra layer of fun. I prefer a same temperature wind when the weather is below freezing. When it’s anything above that, I prefer a colder wind. I had the unfortunate experiences in Southern California with Santa Ana winds. Nothing like going out in 100 degree weather with with winds gusting to make it feel like 110-115 degrees. A bit off topic there, but that’s just me. We are supposed to be in the upper 40s tonight and tomorrow should have a high of the mid 60s. That is perfect weather for me. I’ll still be able to wear shorts, and won’t have to worry about needing to use any AC.

Back to the food, though. I ordered a bowl of chili, which came with the garlic bread. They are both represented in my picture, even though I think the picture looks sort of like a bunny. The garlic bread had good flavor. I preferred the inside part – softer, buttery, garlicky goodness. The crust was good to dip into the chili. The chili was a perfect portion. There were chunks of ground beef, some onions, some green and red peppers. The seasonings were on point for a good chili. Not too spicy, not too much tomato flavor. And the chunks of veggies and meat gave it the good consistency. When you add the melty cheese into those bites, it made for an outstandingly hearty lunch. Would I order this again? Yes, I would. This chili would also do well on other things, but it is good enough to stand on its own. Happy flavors today help keep me positive and raring to go for the weekend!

Firehouse Creamery – Sykesville, MD

Firehouse Creamery is another local ice cream shop. It’s a small town, and we have two Ice Cream shops (Norwood is the other). They are both good, and each have their own unique offerings, so it’s good to have the ability to choose. I was in a milkshake mood yesterday with hot weather, so it’s what I went with.

There were plenty of good flavors from which to choose, and I decided to go with Chocolate Peanut Butter, which is an oldie but goodie for me. The milkshake was the right consistency. Not too thin and not too thick. Good enough to suck through the straw without straining and not so easy that it comes through like milk. The flavor of the milkshake was also good. You could get the flavors of the chocolate and the peanut butter coming through. Since they added a nice touch of peanut butter sauce along the inside of the cup, it made some flavors more peanut buttery as I scraped my straw along the sides for some sips.

Milkshakes and cold drinks are definitely must haves for me, as I tend to gravitate towards them. The only downside is the amount of calories. If it means that I have to exercise a little bit more, then I think it’s worth it.

Firehouse Creamery can definitely do milkshakes (and ice cream) right. It’s why I’ve been there many times in the past and will go many times in the future. And what a nice way to provide temporary relief from the hot temperatures!

Food Truck Tuesday – 10.01.19

The West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department’s Food Truck Tuesdays will be winding down, so I decided to head back there again yesterday. Since the temperature was going to be in the mid to upper 80s, I figured that I would also be getting a milkshake (I’ll write about that soon). Knowing that I would be eating a lot of food for dinner, I decided to have a health bar for lunch.

I arrived at the event shortly after it opened (4PM), so there was plenty of parking and not too many people around. There was a good selection of Food Trucks, but I decided to try two of them (it was originally going to just be one).

I ordered from the Taco Bar Food Truck first. Since the Mexican Street Tacos allowed for multiple selections, I got an order of three tacos – one with Char Grilled Chicken, one with Carnitas, and one with Carne Asada. The tacos came with fresh lime, green sauce, and red sauce.

I started with the Carne Asada. This can be tricky for me. Sometimes, the steak can be too chewy or too crispy. Sometimes it can have a very dull flavor. The steak in this taco was good. It was easy to bite through while maintaining the properties of a well cooked steak. The soft taco had nice flavor and held together well. It didn’t split or break, which can be one of the downfalls of tacos. The onion and cilantro mix added a nice blend for a traditional taco taste.

I went to the Char Grilled Chicken next. This was much better than I was expecting. The chicken had really good flavor to it, and the texture was fantastic. It was shredded chicken and was very juicy. Much better than the grilled, sliced chicken breast that has a tendency to dry out. This ended up being my favorite of the three tacos.

The last taco I tried was the Carnitas. I am a fan of pork, and this did not disappoint. There was a nice little kick to it. Not so spicy that it hurt your mouth but enough to let you know that there was something there.

The sauces both had nice flavor. The red sauce was spicier, but not enough to hurt. The green had a milder flavor, but there was a good combination of flavors in the sauce. Both of the sauces worked well individually and collectively on the tacos, which made for an overall positive eating experience.

The second truck I went to was the Cup O’ Dough Food Truck. This truck has edible cookie dough in multiple flavors. The Fluffernutter flavor caught my eye, and I decided to try it. The flavor was very good. The peanut butter cookie dough had the right texture and consistency to it, and the marshmallow swirl added a nice layer of sweetness and smooth consistency that provided a balance. I got a small size, which ended up being more than I should have eaten in one sitting. It was good, though, and I was happy to have tried it.

I’m not sure if I’ll be heading back for any more Food Truck Tuesdays this year. If I don’t, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for them next year. It’s nice to have these types of events, since there are options out there to try and experience new foods, or try familiar foods from new sources. With the heat bearing down, having options like this help to keep things positive.

French Toast Crepes – French Twist Cafe

French Toast Crepe

I happened to notice that the specialty crepe at French Twist Cafe was the French Toast Crepe. I’ve had this before and enjoyed it, so I wanted to have it again while it was still available. It was delicious, as was the pumpkin frappe that I ordered.

The French Twist Cafe has a small shop on the first floor, and you are able to watch as the employees make your coffee drinks or your crepes. The crepe making process is always fun to watch, but today it was even better.

I enjoy when someone is very structured in their processes, whether it’s putting items on a shelf, doing a training, making food, or anything else. The person making the crepe was very structured and focused on their job, which I enjoyed watching. There is a poetry to the way the food was made, and it was a captivating poem to watch.

They started out be putting the batter on the crepe griddle and using the batter spreader for even distribution. Once this was done, they waited until the bottom was a nice brown and then they flipped the crepe over.

Next, they cracked two eggs on top of the crepe. They then started lightly spreading the eggs all around. The best way for me to describe this is as a light scramble. Not to get the eggs fluffed, but to combine the yolk and whites to add a nice layer on top of the crepe. Once this was complete, the cinnamon sugar mixture was swirled on top of the eggs. A swirl of maple syrup was next, but before that, the employee made a slight adjustment to make sure everything looked good. This is something that is going to be on the inside of the crepe and not visible to the person eating the food, but it’s something that makes me really appreciate how much someone truly enjoys what they are doing. To me, it is artistic to consider the aesthetics of something being done in the middle of the process, even if it won’t be seen or viewed in the final product. It’s an attention to detail during the creation of the food that makes me appreciate it even more. Once the swirl of maple syrup was put on, the crepe was folded in half.

After about 10 seconds (just my guess), the crepe was ready to be folded into thirds. Powdered sugar went on top, then a maple syrup drizzle, followed up with three dollops of whipped cream on the side. It was a beautiful piece of work, which I hope you can see in my first photo. But more importantly, the crepe was delicious. The combination of the eggs, cinnamon sugar, and maple syrup truly gave this a French toast flavor to the tastebuds. And adding in just a little bit of whipped cream on some of the bites gave it a tinge more sweetness, which worked really well with the cinnamon.

The crepes and the coffee drinks at French Twist Cafe continue to make me go back for more. The employees who work there give it a family feel, and their care and dedication in everything they do makes for an even better experience.

This was definitely a great way to start the morning. Stay Positive!

Kismet Cafe – Eldersburg, MD

This morning I took a short drive to another place that I frequent, Kismet Cafe. I have always just gone there for a coffee drink, but today I decided to try one of their bagels as well. The last couple of times I went there, I noticed some of their cream cheese flavors, which is what made me decide to try them.

I’m not the biggest fan of bagels. I will get them every so often, but it’s not normally a food I crave. When I walked into Kismet Cafe this morning, I knew the coffee drink I would be getting: Pumpkin Spice Kismeccino Frozen Coffee. I perused the bagel options and one definitely stood out for me: Challah bagel. So I ordered that, toasted and then had to decide on the cream cheese. There were some good options, but it was ultimately between garlic herb and bacon horseradish scallion. I opted for the garlic herb today, but might try the other one in the future.

The Kismeccino was a good coffee drink. The flavor blend of the pumpkin was nice and the overall consistency was good, with just a little iciness to it. The bagel was really good. The outside had a nice crispness to it, and the inside was very light and not too chewy. It was not like the bagels that I’m used to eating. The garlic herb cream cheese was also really good. There was a definite flavor explosion, but it was not so overpowering that I couldn’t enjoy the bagel. I will get this cream cheese again, but I will also try the bacon horseradish scallion (if they have it).

I didn’t realize it until it was too late, but they have also started baking pumpkin bagels. I might try one of those in the near future. I already know which specialty cream cheese will be a great complement: honey walnut. So I’ll take a future trip here and know that the food will be worth it. I already knew the coffee drinks were worth the visit, but it’s good to know that I can enjoy their bagels as well.

Stay positive and enjoy the day!

Norwood Ice Cream – Sykesville, MD 9.17.19

After enjoying a nice lunch, I decided to top it off with some ice cream. The temperature was in the upper 70s, so I thought it would be a nice and refreshing treat. I decided to go to Norwood Ice Cream in Sykesville, MD. This is a nice little store on Main Street. Downtown Sykesville really has a true old town feel to it and is what I enjoy about Small Town Living. There are plenty of ice cream options, and they also sell Wockenfuss chocolates, so you can get a sweet fix in a couple of different ways.

There were plenty of options, as you can hopefully see from the picture of the flavors. I tried the Pumpkin Spice (bonus flavor that wasn’t listed) and the Scout Mint. The pumpkin spice had a nice pumpkin flavor to it, but I was in the mood for some mint flavor. The Scout Mint had a nice creaminess to the ice cream. There were some tiny flecks of Thin Mint cookies, but every so often you would get a nice sized chunk of the cookie, which were the bites that I really enjoyed.

I had a bit of a bonus with the spoon. When I saw that it changed colors with the cold temperature, I had to smile,. I’m not sure why, since I don’t remember those being around when I was younger. But it was just one of those moments that made me feel young. I took the spoon home with me, by the way.

I liked this ice cream. I’ve enjoyed some of their other flavors as well. They make small batches in the store, which means there will almost always be something a little unique or different available. And it brings people like me coming back for more!

Smoky’s BBQ – Eldersburg, MD – 9.17.19

Smoky’s BBQ is another local place that I frequently visit. I went there today and decided to get the Pit Beef Sandwich with a side of Macaroni and Cheese. I added horseradish and barbecue sauce.

I enjoy all types of barbecue. When I came back to Maryland in 2015, it was the first time I really paid attention to Pit barbecue. It’s a big thing in the Baltimore area, which is probably the reason why I started noticing (I moved about 15 miles West of Baltimore). I’ve been to quite a few Pit barbecue places and will most likely be doing write ups of them at some point. Smoky’s BBQ is close to where I live now, which makes it easier to frequent. They have many different menu items that I’ve tried and enjoyed, so it will be fun to write about the different options. In the Pit barbecue places I’ve been, the meat is cooked over an open pit. With the beef, you have the option of doneness, which is nice. With ham and turkey, you get that nice smoky flavor with the meat.

As far as today’s meal, I decided to order the pit beef sandwich, medium rare, with horseradish and barbecue sauce. I went up to the counter, the asked me what I wanted and how I wanted the meat, and then took the meat off the pit and started slicing. This is a very fresh sandwich. The meat was cooked perfectly. The flavors of the meat and the toppings work perfectly for me. But the thing that makes this sandwich really enjoyable for me is the texture of the beef. I’ve had sliced beef before (pit beef, roast beef, or some variation) and it can be very tough and chewy. This was not the case with today’s sandwich. The meat was easy to bite through, so I didn’t have to pull huge chunks of meat in each bite, and I wasn’t hurting my teeth or jaw to actually chew through the meat. As far as the characteristics I would look for in a good pit beef sandwich, this sandwich met them all.

The macaroni and cheese was a nice side dish. Elbow macaroni with a cheese sauce that was the right consistency and amount. Sometimes you can get too much cheese sauce, where it’s just swimming. Sometimes you can get too little cheese sauce, where it is drier than it should be. Sometimes you can get a cheese sauce that has been cooked at too high a temperature and separated. There are things that can go wrong with macaroni and cheese, but that didn’t happen here. If I were to only order the macaroni and cheese, it would need something extra (tiger sauce, bbq meat, etc.), but as a side it worked well with the pit beef sandwich.

It was an overall pleasant experience and one that I look forward to duplicating again soon.

Big Belly Deli – Sykesville, MD. 9.10.19

I am going to start with a disclaimer. I really enjoy Big Belly Deli. I will sometimes go there multiple times a week. Sometimes I will get food. Other times I will just go in to see if there are any special desserts that look good. This is a local place in Sykesville, MD and it is not visible from a major road, but gets quite a few visitors, including regulars. The staff is really nice and friendly. There aren’t long wait times. And you get a lot of food for the price you pay.

I check in the mornings and lunch time to see if there are any specials for breakfast or lunch. I’ve gone through most of the sandwich items on the menu and will most likely go through them again, so there will be multiple posts from Big Belly Deli on my site.

Tuesday morning, they posted that the special was going to be Sloppy Joe’s. My taste buds let me know that I had to go and get it for lunch. It also turned out to be dinner, since the portions were so huge. The bread was a homemade bread. It was very light and fluffy, and had a slight sweetness to it. The sweetness was a good balance for the meat mixture. This was not a canned mixture or a pre-packaged mixture. There were some good sized peppers and onions in there with the meat, and the sauce had a nice flavor as well. Not too spicy, but the seasoning worked well and made this a very good sandwich. To be fair, I was not able to eat this with my hands, but it was worth every bite.

I didn’t just stop with lunch. I also checked out the sweets they had, and there was a chocolate peanut butter cake that was calling my name. The cake itself was very moist. There was a nice layer of frosting in between the layers. The glaze that was surrounding the cake on top and two of the sides added an additional sweetness and the Reese’s pieces toppings completed the assemblage of a culinary piece of art. I apologize that my picture won’t do it justice, but it was a two dessert slice of cake that was worth every bite.

Big Belly Deli really does homemade food well. Their sandwiches are exceptional, and having daily specials and special desserts and treats really take it to another level. This is a place I’ve gone to again and again and will continue to do so. I still haven’t had a bad experience there, so this is definitely one of those happy places for me.

Enjoying a Quiet Sunday

Today got off to quite a good start. I decided to make my way over to Harvest Inn – located in Eldersburg/Sykesville – for some good, old-fashioned diner food. I grabbed a seat at the counter and ordered biscuits and gravy (sausage gravy) with home fries on the side. The picture is below. The biscuits and gravy is a Sunday only treat, so I felt this would be an opportune time to order it. It did not disappoint. It was as good as usual. The gravy has a nice flavor to it. There are some chunky sausage pieces and the gravy is nice and thick. The biscuits are the right size for the amount of gravy. And the home fries help put it all together nicely (especially when combined with a little of the gravy). The staff that works there is great. They have a real connection with each other as well as with the patrons. The back and forth between them and some of the “regulars” enhances the experience even more.

After that meal, I decided to stop by Starbucks to get the pumpkin Frappuccino. I admit I’m not the biggest Starbucks fan, but enjoy trying their seasonal drinks. There was a little more ice than I prefer, but there was a nice pumpkin flavor to the drink with hints of the spices. The pumpkin flavor wasn’t too overbearing, and the shake of cinnamon on top helped round out the flavors. All in all, it was a good drink. Not the best I’ve had, but still worth it for the season.

A little bit later in the morning, I decided to head over to the Sykesville Farmer’s Market. I enjoy Farmer’s Market season, so I still have a couple of months to go out and have some fun. The Sykesville Farmer’s Market had some nice options. There were 15 or so vendors, some local, some a little more spread out. There was a Mexican grill that was doing fresh breakfast and lunch options. There were a couple of baked goods places, a few fruit and vegetable stands and some liquor booths. Even though I was in and out of there in about 10 minutes, it’s still nice just to experience and see the people.

I’m not sure what the rest of the day has planned for me, but when you get a good start to the day, it helps the time go by in a more enjoyable way.