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Expert tips for the new year and beyond

That’s our hope for you in 2017

Your pot must runneth over

A triumph of hope over experience

We’ve saved the best for last


My favorite stories of 2016

You’ve got a treasure; take care of it

Back in the mid-1940s, the advent of the spinning reel made angling a popular America sport. Spin reels opened up light-tackle fishing to millions for the first time. The easy-to-use casting mechanism allowed anglers to throw their line, lure or bait a good distance without worry of tangles.     Penn spin reels became the saltwater standard of the day. By the mid-1970s, their price approached $100. This was a considerable sum, but they were rugged quality reels made in America....

This comic opera sparkles like sunshine on the sea with all the charm that made it a hit more than a century ago

You may have never heard of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert, but you’ve certainly heard of Gilbert and Sullivan. The two had a run of comic opera hits in England whose popularity propelled them across the pond to America, where that popularity was magnified. Because Gilbert’s father was a naval surgeon, life on the seas and the politics of power were often themes of the librettist. That’s certainly the case with H.M.S. Pinafore, the light yet acerbic jab at patrician politics...

The Holocaust goes on trial in this courtroom drama

An  historian specializing in the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz: The Light Between Oceans) becomes obsessed with people who deny the reality of that genocide.     Earning Lipstadt’s particular ire is historian David Irving (Timothy Spall: The Journey), a Hitler fan who claims the gas chambers of Auschwitz were made up. Irving is so offensive that Lipstadt decries his poor research and dubious motivations in her book on Holocaust deniers.   ...

The judges’ rule: Don’t overcook — or overwhelm — the oyster

On an ideal October weekend, up to 20,000 people thronged the 50th anniversary St. Mary’s Country fairgrounds for the U.S. Oyster Festival, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park. Festival-goers stood in long lines to gobble oysters raw and steamed and — if they were lucky — to sample the inventive recipes competing in the National Oyster Cook-off.     Oyster culinary creators from around the country have schemed and stewed for months to be among the...

Award-winning cakes are this third-grade teacher’s sideline

When Terry Tuttle went back to school, his third-graders at Shady Side Elementary had to settle for map studies instead of cake frosting.     Tuttle’s cake work begins after the kids run free at 3:40pm. Then, after his own children are settled into their after-school routine in his Churchton home, he creates masterpieces out of batter and frosting.     Today’s creation is a four-layer Italian buttercream with amaretto and almond flavoring.  ...

Every half-shell you save makes a home for 10 baby oysters

Oysters don’t like to live alone. “They are very social,” says Oyster Recovery Partnership executive director Stephan Abel.     They also like to be close to their families. Oysters grow up together, indeed bonded together, on reefs constructed by generations before them. With the destruction of reefs through centuries of all-out harvesting, new generations of oysters depend on us to supply new reefs of old shell for them to grow on.     One...

It takes a lot of preying to make so big a bug

In summer’s abundance, praying mantises grow like corn.     Emerging in spring warmth from their tan, papery egg masses, they are tiny, pale-green nymphs. By autumn, after several exoskeleton sheddings and many good meals, the tan, winged adults can be six or seven inches long.     The habit of folding their long forearms gives the species the name praying mantis. They might better be called preying for they use those arms to grasp food, mostly other...

For $1,000, maybe you should try

Could you write a play? It’s a tough job, as you’ve got to create plot, characters and conflict. Tougher still, you’ve got to do it all in dialogue.     Would winning a $1,000 cash prize make the challenge any easier?     The Colonial Players of Annapolis thinks it would. Thus the 67-year-old community theater company has put that premium on its 2016-’17 Promising Playwrights Competition. Win, and you get not only the money but also a June...

Beekeepers political activism rewarded

Buzzing through the halls of the Maryland Statehouse during the 2016 legislative session were some distinctive lobbyists: beekeepers, dressed in full regalia, advocating for a Maryland ban on home use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.     Now, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters is honoring the beekeepers for their role in Maryland’s passage of the Pollinator Protection Act, the first law of its kind in the nation. At an awards dinner on October 13, the...

New plates replace War of 1812

Have you noticed? Maryland is showing a new face to the driving world.     The Maryland Proud license plate, on the roads since September 26, has shoved the bicentennial War of 1812 plate to the curb. There’s still a flag, but Maryland’s heraldic black and yellow, red and white replace the Stars and stripes. We also lose, with few regrets, the industrial-looking structures that to all the world looked more like a prison than Fort McHenry.     Not that...