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Maple-glazed barbecue ribs

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What’s the secret behind these succulent and tender ribs? Using two cooking methods and a delicious homemade barbecue sauce.

Start to finish: 10 hours (30 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Barbecue sauce
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 1 cup chili sauce
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
• 1 teaspoon fancy molasses

Ribs
• 2 racks baby back ribs (about 1-1/2 pounds each)
• 2 tablespoons onion powder
• 2 tablespoons paprika
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 tablespoon pepper

Directions

Barbecue sauce
1. In a small pot, cook the onion in the butter over medium heat until soft.
2. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Set aside.

Ribs
1. Cut each rack in half. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and rub the resulting mixture evenly over the ribs.
2. Cook the ribs in the slow cooker on high for 30 minutes. Switch to low for another 6 to 8 hours. The ribs will be very tender after cooking, so remove them carefully to keep them in one piece.
3. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat.
4. Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce, and grill for 4 to 5 minutes a side, brushing on more sauce as desired, and serve.

While many people insist that removing the membrane is necessary, keep it on for this recipe. It’ll prevent the racks from falling apart in the slow cooker.

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Hold the lettuce: how to diversify your salads

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Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing salad, but you don’t always have to opt for lettuce as the main ingredient. Here are some ideas to inspire you.

Pasta salads
You don’t have to settle for macaroni with mayonnaise and celery. There is a huge variety of pastas to choose from. Conchiglie pasta, better known as shells, is perfect for salad thanks to its shape. Orzo, gemelli and rotelles are equally great choices.

Be sure to enhance the flavor for your pasta salad by incorporating fresh herbs like basil, coriander or chives. You can also add some savory texture to the dish by including roasted nuts or seeds.

Don’t be afraid to play around with interesting flavor combinations like shrimp and mango, chicken and sundried tomatoes, bell pepper and prosciutto or cranberry and apple.

Potato salads
This deli mainstay is more versatile than you might think. For starters, consider experimenting with different types of potatoes — there are around 80 varieties that are commercially available. Leave thin-skinned potatoes unpeeled to add texture to your salad.

In terms of dressing, think about swapping mayo for plain yogurt for a more calorie-conscious dish. Add Dijon mustard or wine vinegar for a sharper flavor profile.

Experiment with incorporating ingredients such as cherry tomatoes, pineapple, radishes, bacon and eggs.

Other salads
The base for a salad can be derived from nearly any ingredient including beets, legumes, quinoa, couscous, rice, bulgur wheat and buckwheat. Next time you go to the grocery store or farmers’ market, be inspired by in-season ingredients and use your creativity to step up your salad game.

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Food

Panna cotta with strawberry coulis

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This classic Italian dessert looks impressive and is surprisingly simple to prepare. It’s sweetly creamy and tart, and the perfect way to end a summertime meal.

Start to finish: 6 hours 15 minutes (15minutes active)
Servings: 6

Ingredients

• 3 cups table cream
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 package powdered gelatin
• 2-1/2 tablespoons cold water
• Vegetable oil or cooking spray
• 4 cups hulled strawberries
• Fresh mint leaves

Directions
1. In a small pot, combine the cream and 1/2 cup of sugar. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then add a spoonful of the hot cream mixture to make sure the gelatin has dissolved completely. Stir the gelatin mixture into the cream and sugar.
3. Using cooking spray, oil the inside of 6 small ramekins. Divide the panna cotta mixture evenly between the ramekins, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
4. To make the coulis, puree the strawberries and remaining sugar in a food processor. Refrigerate.
5. Remove panna cotta from the ramekins by dipping the bottom in cold water for a few seconds, running a knife around the side and inverting onto a plate.
6. Pour about 1/3 of a cup of the strawberry coulis on each panna cotta and garnish with a fresh mint leaf.

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6 great reasons to visit your local farmers’ market

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While some farmers’ markets are open year-round, summer is the perfect time to wander among the stalls and purchase local products. Here are six reasons why you should plan to visit your local farmers’ market this week.

1. To get fresh produce
Farmers’ markets are full of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, many of which are organic.

2. To get artisanal goods

In addition to providing produce and meats, farmers’ markets often offer an assortment of fresh baked goods, honey, chocolates, cheeses, jams and preserves. Many of these products aren’t available at the grocery store.

Additionally, some markets feature entire sections devoted to hand-made products like soap, jewelry, candles and clothing.

3. To find antiques
If you’re into all things vintage, many farmers’ markets have vendors who sell antiques.

4. To find unique goods
Artisanal products aren’t suited to mass production, often because producers don’t want to compromise their quality. Your local farmers’ market is the perfect place to uncover hidden gems you can’t find anywhere else.

5. To taste before you buy
Many merchants at farmers’ markets are happy let you sample their wares. Foodies will appreciate the opportunity to make new gastronomic discoveries, and kids rarely say no to a free sample.

6. To get insider tips
Talking with the growers and artisans who produce your food allows you to gain valuable preparation and preservation tips you won’t get at the grocery store.

This summer, visit your local farmers’ market. Not only will you find great food, you’ll also meet friendly and passionate merchants who are members of your community.

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Common grape varietals grown in North America

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Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are among the most planted grapes in North America and the world. However, there are many other varietals that are cultivated here that make fantastic wines. Here are some common ones that thrive on our diverse soil.

Whites

• Pinot Gris. The wines produced by this grape tend to be medium bodied with a hint of sweetness and balanced acidity. Flavors of apple, pear and stone fruit are common. Hints of spice are also typical.

• Sauvignon Blanc. This green-skinned varietal tends to produce wines that are light-bodied, dry, herbaceous and acidic. Aromas of green apple, grass, bell pepper, gooseberry, lime and peach are all common.

• Riesling. Wines made from this varietal have high acidity, are generally light-bodied and can be either dry or off-dry. Rieslings are intensely aromatic, with notes of apricot, citrus, honey, jasmine and petrol being typical.

Reds

• Pinot noir. This black-skinned varietal tends to produce wines that are light to medium bodied and have higher acidity and less tannin than other reds. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, truffles, leather and vanilla are common.

• Merlot. Supple tannins, moderate acidity and earthy flavors are typical of merlot. These wines tend to be medium bodied and have aromas of black cherry, plum, tobacco leaf, allspice and chocolate.

• Syrah. Also known as shiraz, this varietal produces wines that are full-bodied and packed with juicy fruit and earthy complexity. Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, olive and licorice are common, as is front-loaded flavor with a peppery finish.

These are just a fraction of the varietals North American wine producers are growing. Learn more by visiting your local winery or wine store.

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Cold eats for hot days

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On hot summer days, the idea of turning on the stove or oven can be unpleasant. Here are a few meal ideas for times it’s too hot to cook.

Gazpacho
There are many variations of this cold Spanish soup, but most include cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and garlic. To make your own, combine your choice of vegetables in the blender and season with some salt, pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Top with toasted croutons for an authentic, traditional touch.

Salad

There are almost infinite ways to make a delicious salad, so let your imagination guide you. Start with a base of leafy greens, potatoes or pasta. Add seasonal veggies and a protein like pre-cooked chicken or grilled tofu. For a simple dressing, mix lemon juice with extra virgin olive oil.

Spring rolls
Let everyone in the family make their own fresh spring rolls. Simply assemble the ingredients you want to use including rice paper wrappers, vermicelli rice noodles, julienne style veggies and your choice of protein, then combine them to make your rolls.

If you find rice paper wrappers hard to work with, substitute them with lettuce leaves. Use a premade sweet chili sauce for dipping, or try your hand at a peanut sauce using natural peanut butter, soy sauce and garlic.

Some days it can feel too hot to eat, let alone prepare a meal. Keep yourself and your family nourished with one of the above eats, or simply prepare a platter of fruits, vegetables and cold meats. Bon appétit!

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5 common types of dessert wine

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Dessert wines are a delicious way to conclude a meal, either on their own or paired with food. Here are five of the most common types.

1. Ice wine
Making ice wine, or eiswein as it’s called in Germany, involves allowing grapes to freeze on the vine. The fruit gets harvested and pressed while still frozen so that the juice released is concentrated and sweet. The best ice wines are crisp, intense and elegant.

2. Noble rot

This style of dessert wine is highly prized. To make it, dehydrated grapes covered in the fungus Botrytis cinereal are carefully harvested and pressed. The most famed noble rots are Sauternes from France.

3. Late harvest
Making this type of wine involves leaving grapes on the vine until they are extremely ripe and sweet. This wine has higher sugar and alcohol levels than other wines and a more complex aroma.

4. Dried grape wine
The traditional way to make this type of wine is to let the harvested grapes dry on straw mats. In some regions, however, they’re dried right on the vine. In either case, the resulting wine is imbued with flavors of cooked fruit, honey and spice. The most well-known type of wine in this category is Amorone della Valpolicella.

5. Fortified wine
This variety of wine has a distilled sprit added to it — usually brandy — either during or after fermentation. These wines can be sweet or dry and contain more alcohol than other dessert wines. Common types include port, sherry, grappa and vermouth.

If you’re pairing your dessert wine with food, aim for balance and flavors that complement rather than overpower each other.

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10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
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Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
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Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. Tuesdays: 1:30pm – 4:00pm, July 9th – 30th. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205[...]
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