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How to grow vegetables on your balcony or deck

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Gardening is a wonderful way to stay active, relieve stress, and spend time outdoors. If you grow your own vegetables, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of saving money on food and having access to organically grown produce. Plus, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint and be less likely to waste food that you grew yourself.

However, not everyone has a backyard or enough green space on their property for a regular garden. Fortunately, many of the vegetables you might plant in your yard can thrive in pots on your balcony, deck or patio.

Here are just some of the many vegetables that can be grown in containers:

• Tomatoes


• Peppers

• Eggplants

• Green onions

• Radishes

• Beans and peas

• Leafy greens

• Cucumbers

• Beetroots

Once you’ve selected your vegetables, choose pots with good drainage and enough depth to accommodate the plant’s growth. You’ll also need to water your vegetables every day and ensure they get enough sunlight.

Finally, it’s best to use potting soil for your balcony garden, as it contains more nutrients than other types and can help prevent root rot.

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5 ideas for fresh and simple summer meals

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If the weather is hot, you probably don’t want to get stuck sweating over a stove for hours. Here are five ideas for easy meals the whole family will enjoy.

1. Salads
A salad can be an easy meal to prepare. To make each bite refreshing, opt for water-rich fruits and vegetables. Don’t hesitate to experiment with the ingredients.

2. Fish
Whether grilled, smoked, or served raw, this light protein is ideally suited for summer meals. You can even add it to couscous, quinoa, or other types of salad.

3. Tartare
Made of beef, duck, salmon, trout, or tuna, this luxurious dish can be quite filling. If you want to prepare it yourself, ask a butcher or fishmonger for advice about the best cuts to use.


4. Tacos
Prepare a beef, chicken, fish, or bean filling and let everyone build their own tacos. From peppers and onions to salsa and sour cream, there’s no shortage of toppings.

5. Poke
This dish combines marinated raw fish with fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a variety of other ingredients. For a protein-rich vegetarian alternative, swap the fish for tofu.

Do you want to skip the dishes? Many restaurants in your area offer these meals for take-out or delivery.

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Chicken skewers with labneh

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Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes (30 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Labneh is a soft cheese made from strained yogurt that’s a staple of Lebanese cuisine. One of the best ways to sample it is with grilled chicken skewers.

Ingredients
• 2 cups labneh, divided
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons honey, divided
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 4 chicken breasts, cubed
• Seeds of half a pomegranate
• 4 pieces of naan or lavash (Armenian flatbread)
• 1 lime, quartered
• 1 red onion, chopped
• A few sprigs of coriander

Directions
1. Soak 4 wooden skewers in warm water. (Skip this step if you’re using metal skewers).



2. In a large bowl, mix the 1 cup of labneh and 1 tablespoon of honey with olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, paprika, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then add the chicken and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

3. Meanwhile, pour the remaining labneh and honey into a serving bowl. Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds. Set aside in the fridge.

4. Remove the chicken from the fridge and divide the pieces evenly among the 4 skewers. Remove any excess marinade so the pieces cook uniformly.

5. In a skillet or on the barbecue, cook the skewers over medium-high heat until the inside is cooked through and the exterior is golden brown.

6. Lightly heat the flatbread. Place the skewers on the bread and garnish with a lime wedge, red onions, and coriander. Serve with the honey labneh.

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Summertime dining is best done outdoors

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Dining outdoors is one of the best things about summer. Whether you eat at a restaurant, in your backyard, or at a local park, you’ll find everything tastes better with some fresh air.

For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there’s a wide range of choices available to satisfy your craving for a delicious meal you don’t have to cook. If you think about it, you’ll realize how many options you have: coffee shops, diners, bars, delis, bistros, pizzerias, and other eateries are all just a stone’s throw away.

So, for an alfresco experience that will delight your senses, simply order a meal from a restaurant you love and enjoy eating it under an open sky.

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Raw zucchini salad: Fresh and easy for warm spring days

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Zucchini is a low-calorie vegetable that packs a huge nutritional punch with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and its mild flavor makes it a versatile ingredient for a wide variety of dishes. This raw zucchini salad is quick to assemble and packs a ton of flavor — a perfect side dish for your Memorial Day cookout. Bulk it up with toasted pine nuts or cashews, or personalize it with your favorite fresh herbs. Make sure to use smaller zucchini — larger squash tend to have a looser texture and more seeds. You can also experiment with dressings — add some extra dijon mustard to your vinaigrette, or try different types of vinegar instead of lemon juice, like champagne vinegar or mirin. Top with basil, parsley, cilantro — whatever you like!

Lemon vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 grated garlic clove
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional/to taste)
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme (optional)

For the salad:
3 small zucchini
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Handful of basil
Grated parmesan or crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and honey or maple syrup. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking quickly to emulsify the mixture. Add thyme if desired.


To prep the salad, use a vegetable peeler, sharp knife, or mandoline slicer to slice zucchini in long, thin strips (or whatever shape you desire) and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with dressing, then top with chives, basil, other fresh herbs as desired, cheese as desired, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Pulled pork sandwich and homemade coleslaw

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This sandwich is well worth the wait, and the savory aroma of slow-cooked pulled pork will have your mouth watering long before you take your first bite.

Start to finish: 9 hours (1 hour active)
Servings: 8

Ingredients

For the pulled pork
• 3/4 cup ketchup
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 pork shoulder (about 2 pounds)
• Salt and pepper, to taste


For the coleslaw
• 1 small green cabbage, finely chopped
• 1 small red cabbage, finely chopped
• 2 large carrots, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1 teaspoon celery salt
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder
• Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sandwich
• Hamburger buns or a bread of your choice
• 8 slices of Swiss cheese (optional)
• 4 pickles cut into 16 slices (optional)

 

Directions
1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the pulled pork except the meat. Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the sauce then cover and cook at the lowest setting for 8 to 10 hours.

2. In the meantime, mix the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the other ingredients for the dressing. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Adjust the seasoning as needed and set it aside in the fridge.

3. When the pork is done cooking, gently remove the shoulder from the slow cooker and place it in a large bowl. Using two forks, shred the pork. Pour some liquid from the slow cooker over the meat as you go to adjust the consistency.

4. Pour the remaining liquid into a small pot, and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

5. To assemble the sandwiches, spread a bit of sauce on each bottom slice of bread. Add a slice of cheese and two pickle slices, then place about 1/2 cup of shredded pork on top. Garnish with
coleslaw, then finish assembling the sandwich with the top slice of bread.

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7 reasons to include fresh berries in your diet

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Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and other types of berries are particularly delicious when eaten fresh from the field. This is why locally sourced berries are a seasonal delight you don’t want to miss. In addition to being more flavorful, these fresh fruits have the following virtues:

1. They contain powerful antioxidants that can help prevent cancer
2. They’re bursting with vitamins A, B9, and C
3. They contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and other essential minerals
4. They’re low in calories, so you can eat as many as you want without worry
5. They’re high in fiber and can help alleviate constipation
6. They’re mostly made up of water, so they can help keep you hydrated
7. They can be eaten alone, in a smoothie, with a salad, and countless other ways

Locally grown berries are a healthy food you should indulge in whenever they’re in season. Stock up on them at your neighborhood grocery store, public market, fruit vendor, or farm.

How to store fresh berries
To prevent your berries from growing mold before you can enjoy them, make sure to wash them in the following manner:


• Submerge the berries in a solution that’s one part vinegar and three parts water
• Place the berries in a colander and rinse them with cool running water
• Thoroughly dry the berries using paper towels
• Line a resealable plastic container with paper towels
• Place your berries inside the container without stacking them

This will help your berries keep in the fridge for at least a week.

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Upcoming Events

Jun
12
Sat
8:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 12 @ 8:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area – behind Mount Bleak. Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab[...]
Jun
13
Sun
11:00 am The Royal Front @ SVAXECO
The Royal Front @ SVAXECO
Jun 13 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Royal Front @ SVAXECO
Axe Throwing Tournament to support the Army Rangers. A percentage of the proceeds from the event will go to the Army Rangers! Do you have what it take to be a ranger? Come try sticking[...]
Jun
14
Mon
6:00 pm FREE Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
FREE Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
Jun 14 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FREE Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
WARREN COALITION HOSTS FREE TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training beginning on June 14th. This course is designed to provide information[...]
Jun
16
Wed
4:00 pm Messy Makers and Art Adventures ... @ microWave Project
Messy Makers and Art Adventures ... @ microWave Project
Jun 16 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Messy Makers and Art Adventures for Kids @ microWave Project
We are bringing back two of our most popular classes for the month of June, Messy Makers and Art Adventures! Messy Makers returns for the month of June on Wednesdays from 4-5 pm. With the warm weather[...]
6:30 pm Diamonds and Pearls Gala @ Holiday Inn & Suites
Diamonds and Pearls Gala @ Holiday Inn & Suites
Jun 16 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Diamonds and Pearls Gala @ Holiday Inn & Suites
You’re invited to Reaching Out Now Leadership Program! Join us as we celebrate the resiliency of our girls. Our current girl leaders will continue to carry the torch, lighting the way for our future girl[...]
Jun
17
Thu
7:00 pm Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun 17 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball vs. Purceville Cannons Thursday, June 17th @ 7 PM Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun
19
Sat
7:00 pm Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun 19 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball vs. Woodstock River Bandits Saturday, June 19th @ 7 PM Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun
20
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1:00 pm A Benefit for James @ Virginia Beer Museum
A Benefit for James @ Virginia Beer Museum
Jun 20 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
A Benefit for James @ Virginia Beer Museum
 
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 20 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive[...]
Jun
21
Mon
9:00 am Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Jun 21 @ 9:00 am – Jun 25 @ 12:00 pm
Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Stop Motion Animation Experiment with video production through a variety of mediums including Claymation, LEGO® Minifigures, pipe cleaner creatures, and much more! Ninjas will capture images frame-by-frame and produce videos in a rapid prototyping style.[...]