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December 2013

The lessons at Anne Arundel Community ­College’s Culinary Institute will last well after the new yearBob Melamud

Food eaten between November 1 and New Year’s Day contains no calories. I suspect I’m not alone in honoring this conviction. Yet a lifetime of stepping on the scale January 2 has convinced me that our cherished belief is a cruel urban legend.     This year I faced an additional challenge. Our editor assigned me to take and report on an Anne Arundel Community College Culinary Institute holiday class. Biscotti, cookies, Scandinavian baking and truffles tempted me — and promised an overabundance of extra calories.

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.     “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.     Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.

No need to put out the welcome mat

The mouse stood high in ancient Greece, where the god Apollo took the creature as one of his namesakes, Apollo Smintheus. White mice were kept under the altars in temples to that incarnation.     Most of us can better relate to the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit tradition wherein musuka means thief or robber.     Sanskrit may not be familiar to you, but the burglary antics of the common house mouse probably are, especially this time of year.

The trip starts with Maryland’s Bike and Foot Master Plan

Hey, car … van … SUV … RV … bus … truck, can you give walkers and bikers a little room?     If that’s your plea, you’ll find fascinating reading in Maryland’s Draft Twenty-Year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.     Developed by transportation planners and interested walkers and bikers throughout the state, the plan aims at “making walking and bicycling an integral part of Maryland’s transportation system.”

A fresh-cut Douglas fir is the safest tree you can buy

Believe me when I say that not all Christmas trees are created equal. I know because I was assigned to set fires under the five most popular Christmas species.

Some days, everything’s wrong but the fish

It was cold on the Bay, colder than we wanted to endure. But it had been a long time since either of us had caught a rockfish. So there we were in mid-morning in my 17-foot skiff off the mouth of the Severn in about 35 feet of water with temperatures barely above freezing.     At least the winds were mild, as were the seas. But the skies were stalled in a dark overcast. I could feel the fingers of cold, damp air trying to creep under my expedition-weight fleece unders. Shivering, I tightened my foul-weather coat.

The only time zone big enough for Season’s Bounty in Chesapeake Country

Don’t you love it when you finally find a use for some of the stuff you learned in school?     We liberal arts majors at St. Louis University, a Jesuit school, had to minor in philosophy, and most of those 18 hours of theoretic thinking buzzed right by me. Yet here I am, reveling in my recent illumination of a new way to understand time, that favorite subject of philosophers. For I’ve realized that I am a denizen of The Eternal Now.

Everybody gets into the spirit

Mayhem meets knee-slapping ­comedy when the Herdmans collide head-on with the Christmas story.     Barbara Robinson’s Christmas alternative — it’s no Christmas Carol — is a good choice for Twin Beach Players: Both have to do with a small town where everybody has a part to play in making Christmas.

A princess movie for people sick of princess movies

Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel: Glee) was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and a chill in her will. Creating ice and snow is a great power for a young girl, and she gleefully turns the palace into a winter wonderland for her little sister Anna (Kristen Bell: The Lifeguard). They skate in the grand ballroom, build snowmen by the suits of armor and frolic in snowdrifts under priceless paintings.

Our many reasons for thanks amount to many reasons for giving

As much a part of Thanksgiving as the feast is its sharing.         Like turkey, gratitude is a dish best taken in company. It’s just too big to manage on your own. Alongside the dressing, potatoes and cranberries, tales of blessings make the rounds.     With full hearts and bellies, we’re primed to encompass the community in our circle of grace.