June 12th, 2013

Fire + Meat + Outdoors=A Great Meal

grillThere’s something satisfying in a primal way about cooking outdoors over a blazing fire.  Most people only do this in summer, but I don’t let a trivial nuisance like weather stop me.  I’ve grilled in the high heat of a 100 degree day.  I’ve grilled in the rain.  I even grilled in a snowstorm once.  Why am I such an enthusiast? After a long day, I can think of nothing more relaxing than that smoky smell combined with the sizzles and pops of cooking meat. Admittedly, the optional drink helps too, and it’s all part of the tradition.

Charcoal or gas? I’m always amused to find that people are often staunchly in one camp or the other.  I’m sure some of you are purists who think the only way to grill is with charcoal, taking the time to slowly build the heat of the coals.  Letting the flavor of the charcoal infuse itself into whatever you are cooking is an amazing way to add taste.  A steak cooked to perfection over real charcoal is one of my favorite meals.

And while charcoal-grilled food will always be my ideal, I mostly use a small gas grill for convenience.  The ease of instant flame and even heat is a fair trade for not having the smoky charcoal taste.  I find it’s easy enough to mix up marinades and different spices to replace that signature smoky flavor and keep the taste interesting and the meat moist.

Grilling isn’t just limited to meat though.  Occasionally, I will allow a vegetable to land on my grill, and my favorite is always corn.  Take some corn with the husk still on and soak it in water for 30 minutes, then simply lay it on the grill.  After about 20 minutes, the corn will be steamed perfectly.  The best part is that you can skip all the work of removing the silk – it comes off easily when you open the husk, and the husk even makes for a convenient handle.

If you’re looking to try grilling for the first time or expand your grilling skills, check out these grilling books on our Pinterest site.

Will you be grilling this summer? Charcoal or gas? (And don’t forget to share your favorite recipes).


July 13th, 2011

Finding Events – Easier Than Ever

IMG_9945A while back we asked for your opinion on our website.  Many of you provided feedback and we listened.  One specific area that many of you commented on was the events calendar and system, and based on your feedback, we did a major overhaul of the events area of our site.  The new events calendar is easy to use and allows for more refined searching based on date range, branch, age group, or type of event.  There’s also a search box that will search all events based on the keywords you use.  Let me give you a few examples:

The searching options can be as simple or as detailed as you want.  The first step is to pick a date range with the calendars.  You can pick a single day, week, the entire month or longer if you wish.  The other searching items are hidden until you select them.  There are three boxes labeled Branch, Age Group, and Category and if you click select, the boxes will expand with more options to refine your search.  (These check boxes are called facets.  I promise that’s as technical as I’m going to get.)  For example, say you’re only interested in programs at Perryville.  If you uncheck the boxes for the other branches (or click deselect all and check only Perryville), then you will only see Perryville’s events when you click the search events button.  You can use a combination of any of the three “facet” categories to create very detailed searches.  For instance, you can search for events for preschoolers at North East, or history programs for adults at Chesapeake City, or book discussions for teens at Elkton. Just remember to click search events to refresh the list.

Our new system goes beyond just searching and seeing what’s available.  You can now also register for some programs online with a few easy clicks – simply enter in your name and phone number.  Also, if you provide your email address, the system will send you a convenient reminder email a few days before the program.IMG_9928

The feedback you gave us about our website was very helpful and appreciated.  We are continuing to look at ways to improve the site and have some more changes coming soon that we hope you will find useful.  (Spoiler Alert: Many of the Catalog issues brought up in the survey will be addressed soon.  You will be seeing changes by the end of the year!)  Thanks again for your help!

Click here to see our new events calendar and try it out.

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