Saturday, November 8, 2008

Puttin' Up Time

Here, as promised, is a post about putting food by. I froze 4 pints of collards from my garden, and made a pot of beans-and-greens soup for now.

Collards, washed, trimmed, and cut up.

Put a big pot of water on to boil.

Have ready a big bowl of cold water with some ice in it, and an array of clean freezer containers.

When the water is boiling, dump the greens into it, stir them around, and bring back to a boil. If you're doing more tender greens, like Swiss chard, heat just until they turn bright green. Then transfer the greens via a slotted spoon to the ice water.

Again via slotted spoon, pack the greens into the freezer containers.

Containers nicely labeled, ready to put into the freezer.

Beans-and-greens soup: Put a 4-6 ounce chunk of smoked turkey wing, 1 cup chopped onion or leek, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves into 2 quarts water (or half water, half chicken stock) and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add 4 cups chopped collards, a medium carrot diced, and about the same amount of diced turnip, a bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, an allspice berry or two, and if you like, some thyme or sage. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes, until veggies are soft. Add one can drained and rinsed white beans, bring back to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. I like to top a bowl of soup with a spoonful of yogurt and have a piece of toasted, buttered whole wheat or pumpernickel bread with it. Note: I didn't add salt to this because the smoked turkey and canned beans have enough salt for me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Too much food from your CSA or garden?

This post at The World's Fair got me thinking.

Boom-and-bust is the nature of growing food in a temperate climate. I don't belong to a CSA but I garden and make use of farmer's markets. I enjoy processing my harvest to use over the winter - it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and a pronounced smugness that I'll be OK after civilization collapses. I'll be blogging some of my efforts over the next few weeks.

There are some simple ways to deal with excess produce. Share with neighbors and friends, especially those you know have limited food budgets. Maybe a friend can cook up some of your produce and share the result with you. Talk to your CSA about making some adjustments in the quantity they give you if you're really overwhelmed. Learn some simple preservation techniques.

Freezing is easy and you can re-use some of those ubiquitous plastic containers from purchased foods. A handy trick is to make a large batch of a dish and freeze it in meal-size portions for quick dinners down the road. Ratatouille is a favorite of mine - it uses up the bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and squash that happens every summer. Thaw some ratatouille, cook some pasta, sprinkle some cheese, and - viola! - dinner. It helps to have some frozen pesto (use ice cube trays), too, to brighten up the flavor.

Canning is more fuss but still not really difficult. Seek out cookbooks with recipes for small batches of canned food; once you've got the technique down, you can put up a few jars in not much time at all. A pantry shelf of pickles, salsa, and jam is beautiful and satisfying to look at. You can pickle almost any firm vegetable - green beans make tasty dilly beans; carrot sticks are delicious and crunchy; sweet-and-sour red cabbage is a Polish treasure. All make good additions to winter salads - use a firm lettuce like Romaine, toss with some thinly sliced red onion, other veggies, and pickle of your choice, dress with a simple vinaigrette, and top with croutons made from good bread. Croutons? Cube a slice of bread, spread the cubes on the toaster oven tray, and toast.

Yes, everyone's busy, but a few weekend afternoons spent putting up food can provide a winter's worth of food that will be better and cheaper than supermarket produce. Think of it as a life skill like being able to change a tire or mend a torn seam.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Classic Bobo

This is classic Bobo - he gives the reader reason after reason why his premise is wrong. McCain/Palin lack a clear governing philosopy; most problems are not battles between virtue and vice; personality is not enough.

If you read this essay not knowing that Brooks is a Republican hack, you might think he's a Democratic hack.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TBogg's Satchmo

TBogg's Satchmo

TBogg’s Satchmo, 1997-2008

They had to put him down, that good old dog

With the wise eyes and patient look.

He couldn’t understand the pain

That grew too much, too fast;

His days had run their too-short course.

He understood the days spent walking on the beach

Or sleeping in the sun. The warmth of fellow-dogs,

The comfort of the humans’ talk.

He did not understand the pain.

He could not understand the pain.

Maybe someone can send this to TBogg. I couldn't log in to post a comment.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Pope's Visit to the US

I've sworn off following the exploits of the Catholic Church many times, but I keep falling off the wagon. It's hard to ignore something like Benedict's visit to the US when it takes over the news. It's equally hard to fathom why this is such a media event. No other religion gets so much favorable press for so little substance. Except maybe the Republican party.

I fear that people are taken in by the spectacle and shiny objects. Or maybe people are just confused by a statement like this:

“What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?” the pontiff asked on the first full day of his US visit.

I think he's saying that parents are responsible for the sexual abuse scandal by watching porn on the Internet with the kids. I do admire his ability to string words together in a way that mimics, but doesn't actually make, sense.

For a much better and infinitely funnier take on the Pope, see the inestimable World o' Crap. Best comments:

So if the priest acts as Christ and the head of the Church is male, doesn’t that make the Eucharist a gay wedding?

Hysterical Woman

Well, they *are* dressed for it…

D. Sidhe

What's in Bloom

Clivia miniata

I'll try to get some pictures of what's blooming outdoors soon - spring is sprung!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Martin Luther King

I was only 14 and not very politically savvy when King was killed. In the many years since, I have come to admire him as a great American and activist for civil rights. He advocated non-violence, but never advocated accommodation or surrender. He was in it for the fight.

The sins of white America are many, going back to the beginnings of slavery and on to its awful offspring: Jim Crow, de facto segregation, and racial discrimination in so many areas of life. What is not understood by racists is that by trying to diminish others, they only diminish themselves. Slaveholders fought for freedom for themselves but bondage for others. The cruelties of slavery and Jim Crow only revealed the shriveled souls of the perpetrators.

We have made strides toward equality since the 60s; some have been large - it is illegal to proclaim discrimination; some have been smaller - young people today are much more comfortable in mixed-ethnic groups than my generation. Or that may be actually the other way around. It's easier to pass a nice sounding law than to actually effect change in society, but they are linked.

There is a place for white guilt - white America has been guilty. White America should be proclaiming: Forgive us, we know what we have done wrong, and we are trying to make amends.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

A couple of pictures of the lunar eclipse earlier this week, veiled by a hazy nimbus. That's a planet (not sure which one) barely visible in the lower left of the later picture.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Critter Blogging of a Sort

Heard a house finch today in the Arboretum. Yes, I know they're an invasive species, but in the city they are one of the first signs of impending spring. It's a real pleasure to hear their sweet, trilling song. The sun's intensity is markedly stronger and the buds on the trees are getting fatter. Winter may be only half done, but that means it's on the wane.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Political Two Cents

I'm not anti-Hillary, but am afraid that, if she is the Dem nominee, the media's hate-frenzy will make their treatment of Gore and Kerry look like schoolyard taunting. Can you say President Huckabee?

Here's a politician to watch for the future. Thanks to Thoughts from Kansas.