A PLACE FOR ALL SEASONS
by Howard County Tourism & Promotion
Each spring in Howard County, nature awakens and beauty unfolds. In early March native plants begin to flourish in the environmentally sound gardens of the Howard County Conservancy where history intertwines with horticulture. In mid-April, a panorama of pink appears along roadways, in parks and at historic attractions as 1,500 Blossoms of Hope Kwanzan cherry trees burst forth. Come May, 22,000 mature azalea bushes paint the landscape in hues of red, purple, pink, white and orange at the nationally famous Brighton Dam Azalea Garden.
Summer brings the visual and performing arts. Discover the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in the ruins of a Victorian girls' school as they perform the Bard's beloved works under the stars. In June the street becomes a canvas as artists create on-the-spot masterpieces for the Columbia Festival of the Arts' "Chalk It Up" contest. Artists with easels in tow spread across Ellicott City's hills in July to find the perfect inspirational viewpoint for "Paint It!," a plein air event. Columbia's Lakefront explodes with fireworks to mark Independence Day, and the season is in full swing at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, the legendary outdoor concert venue that annually hosts a who's who of musical stars.
Two beautifully carved river valleys offer unique viewing vistas of the splendor of fall foliage. The Patapsco Valley State Park's expansive trail system and the 20-mile rail-trail along the Patuxent River give hikers and bikers access to the season's glorious hues. The serene waters of Centennial Lake and Lake Kittamaqundi reflect colorful tree-lined shores. Orange pumpkins and ripe, red apples ready for picking bring autumn's vibrant palette to local farms where family fun awaits as fall festivals arrive.
Holiday magic arrives with winter. Beautifully decorated shop windows along Main Street in Ellicott City and at the Historic Savage Mill are a seasonal delight along with the holiday train garden at the B&O Railroad Station Museum. Sparkling, animated light displays at the Symphony of Lights' drive-through wonderland dazzle both young and old. And inside Toby's Dinner Theatre, Broadway favorites come to life in a warm and intimate setting. Meanwhile, audiences at Rep Stage, Howard County's small but highly professional theatre company, are consistently treated to award-winning performances that garner national attention.
Spring, summer, winter and fall, there is always a reason to visit Howard County, Maryland.
Softshell Crab Recipe
Here is a recipe from Dishing Up Maryland, written by local author Lucie Snodgrass. Her cookbook is full of fantastic recipes made with local ingredients. This one for soft shell crabs is from Cantler's Riverside Inn, located at 458 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis.
Pan-fried Maryland Soft-Shell Crabs with Lemon, Capers and Herbs
- 8 medium-to-large
- shoft-shell crabs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 10 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon drained tiny capers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 scallion, white and tender green parts, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Clean the crabs and pat them dry with paper towels. Dredge the crabs in the flour and shake off the excess.
Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to each skillet, swirling to keep the butter from burning as it melts. When the foam subsides, turn the heat to high and add four crabs, skin down to each skillet.
- Cover each skillet with a splatter screen and cook the crabs, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the butter form burning until they turn a reddish brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the crabs with a spatula or tongs and cook until the second side is browned about 5 minutes or longer. Turn off the heat, remove the crabs from the skillets, and drain them on a paper towel-lined plate.
- MAKE THE SAUCE: Pour off the frying fat from one of the skillets while it is still warm. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the lemon juice, vinegar, capers, parsley, tarragon, scallion, and pepper to the skillet. Swirl the skillet to melt the butter.
Arrange two crabs on each of the four plates. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of sauce over each pair of crabs and serve immediately.