Here’s a great link with lots of statistics.
If you’ve seen the movie National Treasure 2, you’ll hear reference to Charles Carroll, a famous Marylander who signed the Declaration of Independence. Also, don’t forget Babe Ruth and Edgar Allen Poe is buried in Baltimore (you can read about Poe’s grave and it’s mysterious yearly visitor here.
Maryland is big in history ~ if you visited our state (nicknamed “The Old Line State”) you’d want to make sure to go to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where you can visit the Maryland Science Center (great IMAX theater) and the Baltimore Aquarium. Baltimore is home to national sports teams the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens (we’re not big sports fans here at my home though!). You can also visit Fort McHenry, which is where the famous battle took place the night Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”. While in Baltimore, if you’re not dining on steamed crabs (they’re not in season now anyway!), you might want to try a Polock Johnny’s Polish Sausage or an Ostrowski’s Polish Sausage . We also like our sauerkraut ~ I think that probably comes from our close proximity to Pennsylvania! Sauerkraut is a must at our Thanksgiving table!
Moving along to Maryland’s capital city, Annapolis, you’ll find it is steeped in history too. I live about 10 minutes outside Annapolis. If you are looking at a map of our state, I am actually between Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay (a tributary that goes from the Atlantic right into Baltimore’s ports). Annapolis is termed the sailing capital of the world (I think locals enjoy saying that!). The Underground Railroad ran through here. Annapolis is also home to the United State Naval Academy (I noticed that John McCain is a graduate from there ~ Abbi). We regularly see midshipmen walking around downtown Annapolis or at the mall (weekends only!) and we have quite a few that attend our church. It is nice to see these young men and women, many of whom are far from home, joining us. Our Girl Scout troop is attending an engineering event at the Academy next month and we’re very excited. In May, during Navy commissioning (graduation) week, we usually enjoy air shows by the Blue Angels. We’re lucky…..they fly right over top of our house! It is a sight to behold….
Here’s a link to our local newspaper. This will give you some idea of the goings on in our neighborhoods (crime in Annapolis is, I’d guess, like any other city although not as high as would be in Baltimore or Washington DC).
Maryland’s Eastern Shore is host to our beaches and what I like to call our “flat land”…..no mountains on that side but lots of sand! Again, if you look at the map of Maryland, the Eastern Shore is considered the “handle” part, or right side, of the state. Seafood abounds here. Crabs, oysters and rockfish are staples. During the summer, anglers from all over the world flock to Ocean City to participate in the White Marlin Open (my husband did this for a few years….before our children came along!...although his team never caught “the big one”!). Here’s a link to Ocean City’s tourism site. My family likes to camp and we try to get to Ocean City at least once a year, often we go more than that! If your children like horses, I’d recommend the Misty of Chincoteague series by Marguerite Henry . These books are about the wild horses of Assateague Island. You can visit Assateague Island and see wild ponies grazing on the grasslands….it’s quite amazing and something we look forward to every summer. One nice thing about Ocean City and our coast is that you can travel right up the coast and be in Delaware in no time flat! Vegetable stands abound in the summer and we can feast on corn on the cob, green beans and tomatoes all summer long! The eastern shore is also home to many, many chicken farms. Perdue Chicken being probably the most well known.
We have beaches but we have mountains too! Maryland is home to some great trails (the Appalachian Trail meanders through our state) and lots of state parks, many of them in our western counties. Our western counties are home to many craft and apple festivals in the fall, complete with apple pies and apple dumplings! We do a lot of camping in the western part of our state (we’re partial to the mountains!). October is a great month to get out and enjoy our fall colors.
Let’s see, weather wise, it is hazy, hot and humid in the summer (August is the worst, where temps can rise to the 100’s), crisp and cool in the fall, pollen filled in the spring and…well, I’d like to say snowy in the winter but it was 56 degrees yesterday! Our winters are generally calm and we usually expect one or two snowstorms a year but we’ve not had any snow to speak of this winter. My children have not missed any school so far this winter which means they will get out of school on June 13th. As of right now (4pm), it is 47 degrees.
Products produced in Maryland ~ well, many years ago (probably about 50), tobacco was a huge crop here. The changing world view on smoking pretty much eradicated that and tobacco farmers are few and far between now. One of the most widely known companies is McCormick Spice. You probably have some of their spices in your cabinet or have seen them on store shelves. My absolute favorite McCormick spice is Old Bay seafood seasoning. We use it on our steamed crabs, steamed oysters, in our crab soup (cream of crab and vegetable) and it’s even good on oven roasted potatoes. If you don’t like spices with a bit of a kick, this might not be for you! Food wise, we enjoy steamed crabs and fresh white corn on the cob in the summer. In the winter, oysters...in stew, fried and, our favorite, steamed.
There are several military installations here (Ft. Meade where I grew up…my parent’s were native Marylander’s even though my dad was military…., Ft. Detrick, Andrews Air Force Base and a Naval Station Annapolis). Camp David, which is the Presidential getaway is also located in our western hills.
We are also only about 20 miles from Washington, DC….an historical treasure trove in itself and unfortunately we don’t get there very often!
- We had fun trying a variety of foods from Maryland. I had decided we would have oysters and so Ken picked up some canned ones that I made into stew. We have had that before so it wasn't to strange for our tastes and we enjoyed it. Though Maryland has a lot of seafood I hadn't planned on getting any other because I am trying to watch our grocery budget and seafood isn't real cheap around here, however when we were at the grocery store I happened to notice a package of 6 clams in the reduced meats. Mara was quite charmed with their shells imagining all the crafts we could make from them and really wanted to get them. I happen to feel a little out of my league dealing with seafood as I have no idea how to prepare it but for the sake of education we decided to get them.
- I was thinking about quickly e-mailing Michelle for some advice but then I happened to check in a really cool cookbook that my mom gave me and it had very good instructions for how you steam them to get them open, etc and then had a recipe for fried clam. The pictures looked really appetizing and I decided to try it. It is so cool how they open all by themselves and then the meat came out much easier than I expected. I fried them up and we were ready for some classy appetizers. None of us had ever had clams before except cut up tiny in clam chowder and so were not quite prepared for what we experienced. We couldn't bit through them. So we cut them up small with our knife and some members of our family attempted to chew them a little and then just swallowed them and others couldn't handle the swallowing. Megan was the only one who asked for 2nds. I am sure she was just swallowing them!! Anyway it was a supper to remember! (By the way for anybody that knows about clams, are they always so chewy or did I do something really wrong? Or were they to old?)
- Some other foods we had were: Polish sausages (pretty normal and enjoyed by all), Maryland Spoonbread (I thought this was pretty good and my men all ate it well but Mara had a hard time getting it down), Maryland Black Pepper cookies (Yummy!), Maryland Cream Waffles (we didn't really see the difference between them and normal waffles but we always like waffles), Tuna Maryland Style (We liked this), Clam chowder (from the leftover fried clams that weren't eaten and the water they were boiled in) and Maryland Apple Fritters. We really enjoyed the apple fritters. They were quite quick and easy to make, better for you than homemade doughnuts and my family all thought that they tasted better and were less messy. As with pretty much every recipe I make I used part wholewheat flour.
- We had fun reading about history in Maryland. We read Biographies of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Francis Scott Key. We also had fun singing the "Star Spangled Banner". I found reading about the civil war to be very interesting because although Maryland was a slave state (they were big in tobacco growing) , they also were a northern state. Most of Maryland is below the Mason-Dixon line but they sided with the North. However over 20,000 men went and fought for the South. I can only imagine all the heartache that there was in that state at that time.
Well this is getting to be a very long post and I need to get busy with other things but I did want to share some of the neat things we learned about Maryland! If you have other info to share we would still be interested in hearing. We are now studying South Carolina and would be interested in hearing from anybody that lives in that state. Next week we will be going to New Hampshire.