Stacking Functions Garden


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CSA Week 15

Seriously, how can there only be 3 weeks left of CSA?

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Today’s CSA box, before we split it with our neighbors, contained:

1 head green leaf lettuce
1 napa cabbage (seriously, the biggest one I’ve ever seen.  Freakin’ huge)
5 apples
1 super cute Yellow Doll watermelon
9 beautiful tomatoes, various kinds
2 eggplants
1 head “cheddar” cauliflower
3 kohlrabis
1 little box of raspberries
2 red onions

We had the eggplant and half the napa cabbage in a stir-fry for supper.  Good stuff.  But there is so much cabbage that I think we might have to make another batch of kimchi, even though we also have two batches of sour kraut going right now.

Standard CSA info:

What is a CSA?
Where do we get our CSA from? Food 4 Thought.
See all of my CSA posts


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Dolphin-safe tuna: a well-intentioned disaster

Oh woe is me, I absolutely hate it when I read things like this (via kottke.org).

“By trying to help dolphins, groups like Greenpeace caused one of the worst marine ecological disasters of all time. Few other fisheries are as bad for groups like sharks and sea turtles as the purse seine fishery, and none are as large in scale.”

I have no idea what the right answer is on that one.  Read the whole depressing affair here.


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The recession: over?

So said Ben Bernanke today.  I’m not so sure.  I’ve been following Umair Haque’s Edge Economy blog for some time now, and it always challenges me to look at things from another angle.  Today (emphasis his):

“Here’s a short economic history of the USA, 1988-2008: Americans were fat, lazy, greedy consumers who lived beyond their means. Right? Wrong. That narrative can be read in many places, but it’s as false as a liar loan. The economics reveal a very different truth. Most Americans took on significant amounts of debt not just because they wanted to, but because they had to. The math is as cold, brutal, and simple. Wages have been stagnant for thirty years.”

Well, I think we collectively were also fat, lazy, greedy consumers in many ways, but still the man has a point.  Back in the 70s, a middle-class family could live on one person’s income.  Now?  Well, they still can I guess, but it’s very, very challenging.

I sometimes get down on myself about my spending habits pre-kids/recession (both hit us at the exact same time).  But then I look around our house and think: really, we weren’t that bad.  My computer screen came out of a dumpster.  I’ve never bought a TV or a gaming system.  We’ve never had cable, or more than one car.  We did manage one overseas trip, but most of our other traveling involved camping in the good ole MN.

So as of today I’ve decided to stop wasting time wishing I had saved more and spent less before 2007.  Onward!

Check out the rest of his post, which lays out his call for an “M-Shaped Recovery” — I believe M stands for meaningful.  The comments are really good on this one, too — many of his readers disagree strongly with him and it makes a great debate.  There are MANY different ways to look at this.


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Thrifty, or just plain cheap, or… DUTCH

I grew up with a very, um, thrifty Dutch dad so I got quite a few laughs out of this book review on salon.com.  Laura Miller issues a call to rediscover the joys of penny pinching.  The book is In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue, by Lauren Weber.

The author apparently attempts the very noble goal of a call to thriftiness while seemingly avoiding sounding like a puritan (or a scrooge).  Miller says:

‘The heart of Weber’s book lies in its more contemporary chapters and her advocacy for what she calls “ethical cheapness.” This blend of environmentalism, anti-consumerism, social justice and old-fashioned parsimony asks both “Do I really need this?” and “What other costs — to the planet, to workers, to myself — lie hidden in this product I’m considering buying?” ‘

Adding this to my want to read list now.  Read the entire review for yourself here.  And yeah in case you haven’t heard, the Dutch are kind of renowned for their, uh, thriftiness.  I think “sustainability” sounds much more sexy, don’t you?


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What to do with celeriac?

We got celeriac in our CSA last week.  It’s a kind of celery, but it’s grown as a root vegetable (from Wikipedia).  I’d never had it before.  Here’s what it looked like, raw:

celeriac2You can use the root just as you’d use any root vegetable, and the leaves can be used like parsley.  Adam cut up the root, and mixed it together with some cut up potatoes, then put them in a foil packet with some butter on the grill for 30 minutes over med-low heat.  Here’s how it came out:

celeriac1You can see the pieces of celeriac, they are more square, with yellowy edges, whereas the potatoes have round edges.  He also put in some red onions.  The verdict:  absolutely delicious.  I am going to add this to my garden wish-list for 2010 and I’ll do some investigating on how to grow it.

It sort of has the taste and texture of a celery-infused potato, but it’s creamier than a potato.  It’s not terribly unlike the flavor of parsnips, actually, but it’s more delicate.

Later in the week we used the leaves in a soup.  Also very good.


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Out of control radish

I saw this flower sticking out above the canopy of my tomato jungle yesterday.

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Thinking it was a weed, I started pulling on it, and kept pulling, and pulled out a 5 foot tall radish!

radish2That thing was huge.  I had forgotten about the couple of radish seeds that I planted next to my tomatoes in May.  I’d read a book about companion planting that mentioned that radishes repel a certain bug that eats tomatoes (don’t remember which bug now).  Anyway, who knew radishes could get that big?!

We’re also getting quite a haul now from the aforementioned tomato jungle:

tomatohaul

Sensing impending doom, the plants are putting everything they’ve got into fruiting.  I’m trying to pick the tomatoes before they are fully ripe because if I let them get too ripe the squirrels get them.  That misfit purple one in the upper left corner is from last week’s CSA, but it’s going to go into the same batch of salsa as these.  Hopefully will get to that tomorrow night.


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Recipe: granola

Store-bought granola is expensive, especially considering how cheap it is to make at home.  Homemade granola is also endlessly customizable:

Basic granola recipe
6 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c. walnuts
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. raisins
3/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

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Place a metal 9×13 cake pan over 1 or 2 burners, turned on to low-med. heat.  Add the oats and roast them right over the burner, stirring every 1-2 minutes.  When they start to look sort of golden and start smelling really good, add the walnuts and sunflower seeds:

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Keep cooking and stirring for another good 2-3 minutes, then turn off the burner.

granola3Add the maple syrup and cinnamon.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

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Remove from oven and stir in raisins.  Stir once or twice while it cools.  Store in a plastic container or bag in the fridge and it will keep for much longer than it will ever last.

This is our latest version of Bittman’s incredibly versatile granola recipe in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.  There are endless variations on this.  Obvious ones are to substitute different kinds of nuts and dried fruit.  You could also stir in a good generous 1/2 c. of peanut butter; 1/2 stick of melted butter would make it more chunky and rich.  Coconut is good in here, as is honey instead of maple syrup. You could also use 1/4 c. molasses and stir in some dried candied ginger.  You could be really naughty and add some chocolate chips after it has cooled.

Update, 9/13/09: I want to add a small disclaimer that Nourishing Traditions/WAPF does not recommend granola.  Fallon even calls it a “so-called health food.”  It’s true that this recipe does not include any soaking or sprouting of the grains, so therefore it’s not going to be as easy to digest and the phytic acid will remain stubbornly in place.

But I have to look at this in terms of relativity sometimes.  I like variety!  And this is still better than any boxed cereal.  Anyway, if there are any WAPF-ers out there who have a sprouted granola recipe, do share.

Update, 3/27/2010: A new variation of this recipe to try: instead of the honey, cinnamon, and raisins, try: brown rice syrup, zest from one orange, and craisins.  YUMMY!


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CSA Week 14

csaweek14

Today’s full-share CSA box included:

1 head Romanesco broccoli (they look like little christmas trees!)
1 bag of salad mix
1 bag of grapes
7 or 8 parsnips
3 gorgeous heirloom tomatoes of unknown variety
5 heirloom roma tomatoes
2 bell peppers
Sweet corn (enough for two meals)
2 heads kohlrabi
1 bunch French breakfast radishes
4 zucchinis

I couldn’t care less about the zucchinis, but everything else in the box was quite nice indeed.  The radishes must be from a second, later planting.  It’s been sufficiently long now since my radish-eating marathon of early June that I’m excited to eat them again.

I’m curious to see what the parsnips taste like.  I always wait until after the frost to pick mine, since the freezing makes them sweeter.  I don’t expect these to be bitter though, just maybe not quite as sweet.

Standard CSA info:
What is a CSA?
Where do we get our CSA from? Food 4 Thought.
See all of my CSA posts


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“Smart Choices” labels: misleading at best

smartchoicesI am not shocked by this (via kottke.org), but still disappointed.  I have to believe that somewhere in the FDA is someone who really, truly, actually cares about trying to help Americans choose healthy foods.  But programs like “Smart Choices” really make me wonder.

From William Neuman’s NY Times article:

Mr. Jacobson objected to some of the panel’s nutritional decisions. The criteria allow foods to carry the Smart Choices seal if they contain added nutrients, which he said could mask shortcomings in the food.

Despite federal guidelines favoring whole grains, the criteria allow breads made with no whole grains to get the seal if they have added nutrients.

“You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,” Mr. Jacobson said.

And what’s worse, your body can’t absorb added nutrients like it can when they naturally occur in a food.  It’s like Mr. Jacobson said: Vitamin A added to sawdust is quite a different story than Vitamin A in some butter from a grass-fed cow.

When foods like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops get a checkmark for good nutrition, you can bet the fox is guarding the henhouse.  Once again, the FDA is completely in the pocket of industry, and why not?  They have no power to regulate anyone, anyway.  Can you tell I’m seriously fired up about this?  It’s insane.

I really appreciated Michael Pollan’s advice in In Defense Of Food: never eat anything that has some dubious nutritional claim plastered all over the box.  Word.


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The “greenwashing” of SIGG

I really like that term, greenwashing.  It’s the perfect way to describe what went on with SIGG water bottles:

“Last week, SIGG Switzerland, the makers of popular aluminum reusable water bottles — a must-have accessory for the fashionably eco-friendly set —  admitted that prior to August 2008, their bottles contained the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA).”

siggbottlesAbout about two years ago, when BPA first started appearing on people’s radar, people started buying SIGG bottles like crazy because they are aluminum.  Therefore they don’t contain that harmful chemical associated with plastic, right?  WRONG.  Apparently SIGG bottles are lined with plastic, and that plastic contained BPA until one year ago.

So here’s a case where I guess I am lucky that I’ve been unable to afford the latest fad green item.  I picked up a couple of cheap BPA-free plastic water bottles at Target that we use.  I have to say though that I even eye BPA-free plastic with suspicion.  They replaced BPA with something, right?  Is it entirely possible that they replaced it with some other chemical that, in 5 years, will be exposed as carcinogenic?

What I really want to do is to just stop using plastic altogether and drink water out of a glass container.  The beauty of this is I could, for example, just use a quart-size canning jar.  Super cheap and chemical free, plus infinitely, easily recyclable.  Unlike plastic, which is hard or sometimes even impossible to recycle.  Note that I said “I want to” … I haven’t made this change yet.  It’s something in my hopefully-near future, but I’m not there yet.

The crappy thing about this business with SIGG was that they enjoyed a huge windfall based on misinformation about their product, and did nothing to correct the situation, for well over a year.  Read the entire article right here.