Monday, August 31, 2009

Roasting Tomatoes

I don't know how many of you are suffering an overabundance of tomatoes as I am but I thought it was time to post a little recipe for roasting tomatoes. Depending upon the time of year and how much rain you've had in your area fresh tomatoes can lose some of their zip and really do need to be punched up a bit and roasting them is the perfect solution and it is extremely straightforward to boot. Roasting intensifies the flavors and can turn ho hum tomatoes into a glorious dish.

Here is a trick for a simple roasted tomato sauce that you can serve over pasta.

Peel, core, seed and chop about 3 pounds of whole ripe tomatoes. Put them in an oven proof, non reactive container and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. If you are a garlic fan a couple of cloves of thinly slice garlic is a great addition. Salt and pepper to taste and if you like things a little spicy a pinch or two of dried red pepper flakes is very traditional. Put these uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Remove from the oven and mix in a few tablespoons of chopped fresh basil or lacking that a tablespoon of dried. Serve over pasta or even good sliced bread toasted with a bit of olive oil. Rustic but full of flavor and, as you can see, not very difficult.

BTW peeling tomatoes is quite easy if you have a little boiling water. In the case above I would just put the tomatoes in a metal mixing bowl and put on the kettle with about a liter of water and bring it to the boil. Pour the boiling water over the tomatoes and let them stand for 20 to 30 seconds and then run them under some cool tap water until you can handle them. The peels will slip off easily. Peeling and seeding the tomatoes is a pain but most tomato skins don't react well to cooking and get bitter to boot and the same with the seeds. Neither of them bring much to the flavor party.

Still Raining

Well it is still raining here in Georgia so the weekend didn't include much in the great outdoors. Just as well actually since the rain caused several large Ancho/Poblano pepper plants to fall and break leaving an emergency "deal with the peppers" event. Yesterday was spent making cucumber & pepper relish and pepper & onion relish. It's all canned and processed, though what we will do with it all is another question entirely. Based on the very rare occasion that I succumb to the need for a "tube steak" and need a few tablespoons of relish I now have enough for 50 or 60 years. I can use it for making tuna salad so maybe 30 years is a better estimate.

Yours truly managed to get into some poison ivy or oak last week while cleaning up in the garden. Only a small bit but it is on the left side of my face from my lower eyelid down to my upper lip. Irritation, irritation and very inconvenient. An archeologist friend, with extensive experience in such things, recommended a product called Zanfel and I went to CVS to get some...It was $40 for a small tube!... and since the dollar I invested in the lottery didn't bring me $350 million I guess I will stick with the calamine.

Strange weekend...Saturday saw us laying to rest one of our great liberal statesmen Ted Kennedy and Sunday saw the media giving Darth Cheney a pulpit to praise torture and lawlessness. Very strange indeed. The head "Death Eater" had the nerve to complain that Obama administration should be asking him how he had prevented a "mass casualty" attack on the U.S. for the last eight years and not investigating the unlawful torture and murder done on his watch. Seems to me the last "mass casualty" attack on the U.S. was on his watch but whatever and I don't really remember asking Clinton how he had prevented an attack during his 8 years on office. Like I said...whatever.

The economy, or lack thereof, is in the news this morning. The WSJ has the bad news about the commercial real estate market and it is really ugly. Several people are asking how in the hell the economy is going to recover without improving wages and employment...the resounding answer is that it won't.

Everybody have a great Monday and let's keep our fingers crossed that something happens to put out the fires in California.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rainy Friday

Lots of rain and might not even get to 70 today. Garden work is out so I guess reading is in. Waiting for a break in the rain to go out and see how many more tomatoes there are. It is the final blush and they are coming fast and furious...about a half bushel per day. Going to have to buy more jars!

Going to be a lot of soup this winter and pasta sauce!

Did manage to get a checkup at the dentist in this morning and I am good for another 6 months and on the way home bought my winning $350 million lottery ticket.

Madam and I did take in the new Harry Potter the other day and it was very good. Can't say it was the best but the kids did finally get to do some proper acting. Much better in that department.

Now I just have to decide what book to curl up with and I am feeling like it might be some old science fiction.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

If It is Bad for Bees It is Bad for You

In a study published in the current issue of The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Researchers have found that exposure of High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to heat raises levels of a toxin harmful to bees and humans -
The researcher from the USDA reached their conclusion after measuring HMF levels in samples of HFCS over a 35 day time frame, at temperatures of 31.5, 40.0, 49.0 and 68.8?c.

They saw that HMF levels increased steadily with temperature, and that there was a dramatic jump at 49 ?c. The chemical forms as the fructose dehydrates, with mineral and organic acids acting as catalysts.

What is HMF?- Hydroxymethylfurfural ( here is its MSDS)

a toxin that causes gut ulceration and dysentery-like symptoms in bees. In humans it has been linked to DNA damage, and its daughter metabolites levulinic and formic acids have also been seen to cause harm.

This is just another reason to find ways to reduce or eliminate HFCS from your diet. We keep wondering why so many bee colonies are suffering and dying and what do you know but HFCS is used as feed by many commercial beekeepers.

Remember the rules: If granny wouldn't recognize it as food it probably isn't and if it is in a package and has more than a couple of ingredients it probably isn't really food.

h/t La Vida Locavore

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hunter Speaks for Me

If you haven't read Hunter's rant over at Daily Kos concerning health care then take a few minutes and do so. You'll be glad you did.

RIP Senator Edward Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy died late last night at the age of 77. He was the greatest legislator of his generation, and surely one of the giants of Senatorial history. It will be impossible to measure the impact Kennedy has had on the American people and the people of the world.

The White House issued a statement from President Obama this morning.

"Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

"For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

"I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

"An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."

In the New York Times report on Kennedy's passing, John Broder wrote, "[H]e was more than a legislator. He was a living legend."

Exactly one year ago today, Kennedy delivered his last and memorable national address at the Democratic National Convention. Even though weakened by his illness Kennedy still inspired:

"There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination -- not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation. And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama, and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."

The irreplaceable Ted Kennedy will be missed but his legacy can live on in the cause which he championed through his whole career. It is time for the Ted Kennedy Healthy America Act that will insure no American wants for proper and affordable health care.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Care Reform Reading

Lot's to read about health care reform and none of it is very heartening. Looking more and more like we are all screwed.

The LA Times has a report on how we are doing in the health care reform battle. It's not pretty and it goes without saying that the big money from the health insurers and big pharma are winning. If you are concerned about the future of health care in this country this is a worthwhile read.

Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies: +87%

Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428%

Chances that an American bankrupted by medical bills has health insurance: 7 in 10

—Harper’s Index, September 2009

You can read more in this very good article from Common Dreams by Chris Hedges

Last but surely not least we have Matt Taibbi’s “Sick and Wrong”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Christmas Lima Beans

It's garden clean up time again. Now all the hard work of putting in the garden has to be reversed. While the tomatoes and peppers are still going strong and the occasional melon ripens things like beans, corn and squash need to be removed and composted. The fall plants of broccoli and cabbage are all sprouted and will be ready to go out in a few weeks but first a place needs to made for them. While things are winding down we are still pretty much eating every dinner with things from the garden. Last night eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and beans for dinner and yesterday's lunch was cantaloupe just picked. This is the first time I have really been successful with melons as they usually succumb to wilt or mildew plus our clay soil is not ideal for such things.

The picture is of the last of the Christmas limas which were harvested yesterday as I pulled up all the vines. Only a double handful but enough for dinner last night. They are much prettier raw than cooked BTW as they sort of turn a purplish gray after a little simmer and all of the bright red disappears. Lima beans aren't my favorite but Madam loves them so I grow them. If I have to eat them I prefer the small baby limas or butter peas we grow down here in the South. These are a pretty good size bean as you can tell from the dime in the pic.

I'm in the garden again today but should wrap up the biggest part of the chores. Another month or two of tomatoes and peppers along with late season cucumbers and the second planting of beans(French climbing and Cherokee Trail of Tears). The sweet potatoes are just about ready as well and they will be coming out of the ground in September. Off to the garden...everyone have a great Monday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

As Always... Joe Bageant

If you don't regularly check in with Joe to see what he is doing then you are missing some of most important insights and writing about what is happening to our society today. His latest is especially worth a visit.

How much freedom can one man stand?

Survival of the Fittest

The conservatives keep ranting about letting 'the market' rule how health care is delivered and paid for and just this weekend Georgia GOP jerk (my rep!) Tom Price reiterated that a government sponsored option would destroy the private health insurance industry as one of his main arguments against reform and a public option. They seem to want it both ways...don't let the government driven public option compete fairly with private industry because it would destroy the private health insurance industry and also let the market drive the business. You can't have it both ways.

I think Darwin should rule.

It Hurts

Jim Yeager has a YouTube posted at Skippy's place that makes me want to cry. Seriously.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Debunking the Health Care Reform Myths

Media Matters has done the research and has a comprehensive debunking of the current right wing myths about health care reform. You might want to keep this link handy in case you need to reset anyone's thinking.

MYTH 1: There is no health care crisis
MYTH 2: Health care reform will impose rationing
MYTH 3: Health care reform provides for euthanasia, "death panel"
MYTH 4: Health care reform legislation will cover undocumented immigrants
MYTH 5: Health care reform will raise your taxes
MYTH 6: Health proposals would tax all small businesses
MYTH 7: Health care reform would add $1 trillion-plus to deficit
MYTH 8: House bill would ban private individual insurance
MYTH 9: Obama said he didn't read House bill
MYTH 10: Co-ops are an adequate substitute for a public option
MYTH 11: Obama is pushing a system like the U.K. and Canada
MYTH 12: Obama, Dems pushing "socialized medicine"
MYTH 13: Prominent opponents of health care reform are credible
MYTH 14: Government can't run a health care program

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Distributed By?

Has anyone noticed that almost every product you buy these days has 'distributed by' on it instead of 'manufactured by'? Do Colgate and P&G not make their own toothpaste and just buy it from the Chinese or someone and distribute it? I would assume since they don't claim to manufacture it then someone else does and why is that? Look around at the products you have on the shelf and you will be amazed at how many don't have the actual manufacturer but the distributor's name on it. Sort of gives me an uneasy feeling...

Where's the Balance?

Via digby

Does it bother anybody that we taxpayers are on the hook for 23.7 trillion dollars in guarantees to the banking industry to keep the bloodsuckers from collapsing and yet we are having a full blown political meltdown over a trillion dollars over 10 years to insure every American has access to health care? Just seems weird.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Next Shoe

We asked the other day what the next canard in the GOP effort to torpedo health care reform would be and now we know:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday defended critics of Democratic health care reform plans who claim the proposals would provide subsidized health care to illegal immigrants. Kyl said Democrats have long sought to block curbs on public services for people illegally in the country.

“It’s a logical question for people to ask,” Kyl said during a conference call with reporters, maintaining that during last year’s State Children’s Health Insurance Program debate and other legislative fights, Democrats blocked efforts by Republicans to include curbs on health care for illegal immigrants.

“In the last couple of bills … there were efforts to ensure that only eligible people would get the benefits … those efforts were defeated by Democrats,” Kyl argued, pointing out that hospitals currently are required to provide illegal aliens — as well as anyone else — with health care if they are in need.

If you thought the teabaggers and patriots were insane at the town halls before you might you might want to hold on to your hat. Of course you won't find anyone in the media asking the right questions...If we turn the illegal immigrants away from the hospitals or any access to emergency care what are we supposed to do with the bodies? Is there any plan for ameliorating the epidemics of who knows what when potentially millions of people go untreated and are left to die or spread whatever contagious disease they may have? Is there going to separate plans for disposing of the bodies of children and adults? What are we going to do about immigrant children orphaned because their parents didn't have access to health care?

Finally Someone with a 2x4

There is the old story about the farmer and a mule. A man sees the farmer grab a 2x4 and whack the mule across the head. Questioning the farmer as to why he thought it was necessary to hit the mule in such a way the farmer replies. "Oh the mule is plenty smart but first you have to get his attention."

I guess someone finally got out the 2x4 because the Dems seem to have finally figured out that the Republicans just aren't going to cooperate:

“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

About freaking time? I can't believe it has taken this long for the Democrats to figure out that they are wasting their time. The GOP leadership has said over and over that this is a strategic decision on their part and hope to use the failure of any health care reform to take out Obama or to use their phrasing "make it his Waterloo".

Now we just have to figure out if the President is Wellington or Napoleon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nothing Really

I realized this morning that I haven't posted anything here since Friday. No excuse really except that I don't have much going on that is any different than any other weekend. Madam and I are dog sitting for the daughter's two, Megan and Stewart, so we have done some walks and played a little fetch and let them in and let them out. Both are good dogs and are trained to a T. It's very nice to walk them as they understand the rules. You say "wait" and they stop at the intersection until you say "OK". You say "fix" and they stop and lift their paw so you can get the leash out from under. They don't pull and just walk along beside you. Megan does stop and sniff every once in while but usually comes right along after a tug.

The tomato plants have decided to ripen everything at once. Madam and I canned 16 pints of tomato sauce yesterday. Since you have to simmer and reduce the tomatoes by about half that means we peeled, seeded and food milled 16 quarts or 4 gallons of tomatoes yesterday and I picked another basketful this morning. We are definitely set for tomatoes. The okra is going full bore as well and I am picking two meals worth everyday. We've pickled and frozen enough okra for a couple of years and it's still coming. The plants are now so tall that I have to pick as Madam can't reach the tops. Looking at the number of blooms we are going to have as much again as we have had already...will definitely back off on the amount I plant next spring.

So I am off to walk the dogs.

The tropical storm was a fizzle. We got just a little rain and cloudiness but not near what I was hoping for.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Whole Foods Flap

Evidently the flap over the insane rant by the libertarian CEO of Whole Foods John Mackey in the WSJ flooded the Whole Foods forum on their website and they shut it down. There are evidently a lot of upset 'former' customers. Good!

Just because there is now even less reason to shop at Whole Foods there is no reason to despair if you want organic foods. Here's an organic store locator. And here's the famous Eat Well Guide, where you can look up farmer's markets, restaurants, groceries, etc. this is a good resource. You can also check with the local harvest site and look for sources of good food.

Even though you can't comment on their website anymore you can still express how you feel to the folks at Whole Foods:

Contact Whole Foods Market's Investor Relations Department by
calling (512) 542-0204
or via email at
U.S. National Offices

World Headquarters
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX 78703-4644
512.477.5566 voicemail
512.482.7000 fax(br)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP Les Paul, 1915 - 2009

Les Paul passed away today. You can't say enough about the man who invented the solid body electric guitar and multitrack recording. He wasn't only an inventor but one of the great guitarists. He earned 36 gold records and 11 No. 1 pop hits, including "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," "Nola" and "Lover." His contribution to music is absolutely huge. Pete Townsend of The Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al DiMeola and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page all used the Gibson Les Paul which Gibson guitars started making way back in 1952.

Good Bye Whole Foods

It's sad really, because you really want to believe that there are companies like Whole Foods that are good citizens and actually live up to what they advertise as their core values. It turns out that it is all hype and marketing and as long as you spend your money there they could give a shit about you and your welfare. It is obvious that they could care less that 50 million Americans are one sickness away from destitute or worse, will die from the lack of medical care. As long as you shell out the big bucks for their products they really don't care if you have to skip your medications to pay for it.

It's going to be a challenge because I like the products I find there. Granted, I have cut way back on what I buy at Whole Foods because of the garden and the virtual vegetarian diet of the last few months. I'm just going to have to get over it and find other sources for the things I used to find there. Somebody else sells real chicken and quality fish. I don't, however, know where I am going to find a replacement for Madam's 365 Ginger Ale and that's bad.

I actually find it quite amazing that John Mackey, the CEO and founder of Whole Foods is so out of touch with who is customers are. I would venture to say the progressives, liberals and other "tree huggers" far outnumber the conservatives. His op-ed in the WSJ is unbelievable for someone who heads an organization that claims one of its core values is "Caring about our communities & our environment". Mr. Mackey has revealed his extremist views on employee benefits in the WSJ no less:

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment.

I've known for some time his extreme views on unions but let it go considering what I assumed were the offsetting benefits his business offered. This latest revelation was the last straw however, and I will add Whole Foods to Wal-Mart as an off limits place to shop. I'll use the only weapon I have and that is my pocket book. If Whole Foods or Mr. Mackey retract the op-ed then I will reconsider but it will forever throw a shadow over what I thought was an upstanding company that actually had peoples' welfare as a core part of their values. Frankly, today it is very easy to locate competitors and that is where I'll be.

If you are interested, check out the overwhelmingly bad vibes on the Whole Foods community forum this op-ed has generated and there is a lot more to be found in the discussions in Hopeful Skeptic's and Aptoklas' diaries at the Great Orange Satan. It appears that Mr. Mackey has managed to piss off a whole lot of customers including this one.

h/t to DarkSyde at Kos

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Little rain

We are finally getting a much needed rain today which I wish I could share with Cookie Jill in Santa BBQ who is on fire yet once again. It is a nice respite from the heat of the last week or so. It's 1pm and still only 74F. It's not raining hard but it is raining. I actually went out and stood in it for a while which is always refreshing. I must have been radiating a quiet joy or something because a hummingbird came to hover in front of me a gave me the once over. She decided, after a close inspection, that I was not food and she went instead to the feeder. It happens in the garden quite often and it is always a happy experience when they come so close and look you over so intently. A very special treat from the Goddess.

More canning of tomatoes this afternoon after Madam gets back from lunch with a friend who is having a birthday today. Probably get a batch of pickled peppers started as well. The pepper plants were late getting any fruit set but with the hot dry weather they are now in full production. I've got several poblano plants that have needed some heavy duty staking because they are so heavily laden. Looking forward to some chile rellenos very soon!

More and More Criminals

Steve at YDD links to one in a series of articles by Barbara Ehrenreich in which she documents the many ways in which municipalities have made it illegal to be poor in America. There are links as well there to the two previous articles in the series. This is not pleasing or rewarding reading but something everyone should read.

As I commented over at Steve's place. There is only so much pain and suffering such a large group of people will take lying down. The ever increasing potential for violent demands for change will break sooner or later and it will be very ugly. The main stream media, when it deals with the trials of the current depression, are focusing on the 'middle class' or what Barbara calls the 'Nouveau Poor' but as she so aptly describes there existed a whole class of already poor when this depression arrived and they are being pushed further and further down the slope. It's absurd that this should be the case in a country with all the wealth of this one that people, through no fault of their own, should be forced to live in such misery.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Craziness Spreads

I missed by a mile (from Specter’s town hall):

I know that years down the road, I don’t want my children coming to me and asking me, ‘Mom, why didn’t you do anything? Why do we have to wait in line for, I don’t know, toilet paper or anything?’ I don’t want to have to tell them I didn’t do anything. As a normal citizen, the most I feel like I can do is come to this town hall meeting.
Who'da thought that the health care bill contained a provision for toilet paper rationing. These people must be desperate and while shit paper rationing is not something I want to contemplate couldn't they have come up with something a little better? My ideas might have been lame but toilet paper rationing?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Next Insanity Please

Last week it was Caribou Barbie and Noot decrying the inevitable death panels and granny murdering if the we get gubmint health care. What new insanity will they come up with this week to further the discussion of how and why we need a major overhaul of the American health care system?

They haven't touched on mandatory sterilization yet. I'm thinking that in order to bring it home to the target audience they will have to specify that it only applies to those with an IQ in the double digits, or those making less than 50k$ per year. Anyone unemployed is a sure target and a nice touch would be that you have to get sterilized before you can get unemployment.

Another possibility is that if you have more than two children you will have to give up the excess to the gubmint for mandatory Peace Corps duty before you can qualify for gubmint insurance.

Another requirement might be that the gubmint insurance will require that foods such as Slim Jims, Twinkies, Mountain Dew, and potato chips be taken off the market...that would kill this thing for sure.

Anybody else have a guess at what the next 'outrage' over the dreaded gubmint run health care will be?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Exciting or What?

Another exciting weekend around the Monk household. 12 pints of salsa put away and 5 jelly jars of fig jam. More green beans to do something with but we are running out of freezer space so it might be another 8 quarts of pressure canned beans which is not my favorite way to preserve beans. The only thing to do with pressure canned beans is to cook them 'Southern' style which, while good on occasion, doesn't really showcase the bean...if you know what I mean.

Going to have a treat tonight and make another rustic peach tart. Peaches are starting to fade in the markets and have doubled in price in the last couple of weeks. I have enough for two more tarts as some aren't quite ripe. And yes, there is vanilla ice cream.

We are going to fall off the vegetarian wagon and have roast chicken tonight as well and beans and fingerling potatoes...everything from the garden but the chicken. I got hungry for chicken watching the Julia Child movie yesterday and I just have to scratch the itch.

Oh! and it's August in Atlanta and the weather is making sure we know it. It's 5pm and 95 so I am expecting 96 before it starts to cool off. We have actually not suffered to badly from the heat this summer and virtually every night we have been able to open the windows and sleep with a little fresh air. It didn't fall below 80 until after 11 last night and that is go/no go threshold on open windows and it is likely to be the same story tonight.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fresh Figs

My fig tree is starting to produce and for the last three days my breakfast has been fresh figs and plain yogurt. Brings back memories of my days in Cyprus and the little farmer lady who would bring me fresh yogurt and various fruits when they were in season including figs. Never much of a fig person until that sojourn in the Med and discovering the joy of really fresh fruit and freshly made real yogurt. Having it delivered by the lady who made it in a donkey pulled cart didn't hurt the experience either. The food I had in Cyprus during that year and a half in the late 60's changed me forever. Lamb, olives, bread, kebabs, wine, yogurt, figs, and many other things are now a part of my world food.

Julie & Julia

Going to the movies this morning to see Julie & Julia. I will report back but from everything I am reading it is great. I love Meryl Streep and from the clips I have seen she does the role justice. I still haven't seen the latest Harry Potter but I think Mini Monk and I will go see it next week on one of her days off.

Update: It won't win an Oscar probably but a very enjoyable flick just the same. Very glad I went to see it. Meryl has Julia spot on and if you have read "My Life in France" it will be even more enjoyable. Amy Adams does a good job as well and she is as cute as a button. I enjoyed it and fully intend to by the DVD to add to my library. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Just Different

I seem to running against the grain according to Michael Pollan's latest article in the NYT Magazine. Evidently fewer and fewer people are actually cooking nowadays. It is age of prepared, take out, frozen. Even though more and more people are watching cooking related shows on the Food Network and such there is actually fewer and fewer people actually getting off the couch and cooking.

Part of it has come from the change in what cooking means over the years. It used to mean getting a bunch of basic ingredients together and making a meal. What we would call 'scratch' cooking today. Now taking the meal out of the freezer and heating it up is considered cooking. If someone can make a box of mac and cheese they consider themselves cooks.

Michael talks a lot about Julia Child and her revolutionary show. I too, cut my teeth on Julia and followed her religiously from her debut in 1963. I own all her books and use them regularly and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the new movie with Meryl Streep. I guess because my introduction to cooking was through Julia and my grandmother who also was a 'scratch' cook I still cook that way today. I wouldn't get nearly the satisfaction of preparing a meal if it merely involved mixes and pre-cut veges.

As Michael points out at the end of the article. The American food industry has made it simple for us to enjoy the equivalent of a 'Sunday dinner' everyday without much or any work or all. Part of what cooking does is delay instant gratification, you have to work to to put a big heavy meal on the table. Part of the problem today is that you can eat like a king(or a hog) without having to invest any sweat or energy, just money and it is showing in our health and waist lines.

updated to correct spelling error

Morning Visitors

It was pretty early and there wasn't enough light to get a good picture. Pretty amazing considering we live in the city. Granted there is some wooded space around but still....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

That Was Quick

I guess this was why they sent the 'Big Dog'.

CNN - North Korean President Kim Jong Il has pardoned two U.S. journalists, state-run news agency KCNA said today. News of the pardons came hours after former President Bill Clinton met with the North Korean leader to discuss the case of reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

They wanted some international attention and sending Bill Clinton gave them the respect they were looking for.

Not Serious

The more I watch what is going on in this country around health care reform the more apparent it becomes that a large majority of this country are just plain weak thinkers and not really serious about the challenges we face as a nation and a world. The number of people that have latched on to the Obama birth certificate insanity is enough to justify this conclusion but it is only the most obvious.
How many people that are using Medicare don't seem to realize that it is government run health care?
How many of the reform naysayers are just simply ignoring the fact that nearly 50 million of their fellow Americans are without a health insurance safety net and that one even moderately serious medical problem will bankrupt them if they can even manage to find a way to pay for care?
How many of the 'teabaggers' or whatever they are that are doing the work of the health insurance industry by disrupting Democratic town hall meetings on reform actually know what they are doing to the future of the American way of life? Do these people want the American political dialogue to just be thuggery? Are they so afraid of rational discussion and logical process that they will do anything to stop the dialogue?
How many of the folks that are dead set against modernizing American health care, or at least bringing it up to the standard of other countries, understand what countries like France, Sweden, Japan and other more progressive countries have and how it improves their ability to compete with the U.S. on the world economic stage?
How many of these 'status quo fans' understand that so far this year the health care industry has spent nearly $250 million lobbying against health care reform and what that says?

This particular time in our country is what I like to call a 'Darwinian moment' and we have to ask ourselves whether the people of this nation have what it takes and thus deserve to survive. The key to survival is to understand your environment and where possible adapt your behavior in such a way as to optimize your chances of survival. There are always accidents and unforeseen events but survival is a game of chance and doing what you can to make the odds swing in your favor. It sure looks like to me that a large portion of this country is doing just the opposite. Health care is at the forefront right now but following close behind is the environment and several other things that have the potential cause great swaths of the world's population to feel the sharp teeth of natural selection.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Dog Days

Here we are in the middle of what (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) are know as 'dog days' traditionally between July 23 and August 23. The full burst of summer is here and August is traditionally the hottest month here in the South. The lush growth in the garden is past and a lot of the vegetables are beginning to wind down from the high energy of late spring and early summer. A lot of the garden looks tired. For many of us it is the time for 'putting by' and that is just what Madam and I have been doing. Every day is at least half consumed with preserving the harvest. Yesterday was another 8 pints of tomato sauce and the day before was pickled okra, pickled peppers and dilled green beans. Today will be more beans...every other day you can pick 6 -8 pounds of green beans off the Mountain White Half runner vines and it looks like it will be another week or so of harvest before they too are exhausted. The tomatoes are showing the wear and tear from putting out a very good crop this year and some of the green tomatoes left on the vines are smaller and will probably wind up as green tomato pickles or relish. There may be another dozen quarts of red tomatoes to put up before it is all over though.

The butternut and acorn squash are being harvested as well and being carefully put aside in the basement for later in the fall and winter. Cantaloupes are coming in now and they are now a part of at least two meals a day. You really can't effectively preserve them so you have to eat them now and pray that they pace themselves a little and allow you to keep up. I'm also racing the chipmunks to see you can get the most Lima beans and butter peas...I think I'm winning but it will be close.

The 'dog days' are also the time to begin planning the fall and winter garden. You can expect the first killing frost by the first to middle of November around here but that leaves 90 days, and with luck a little more, to plant another crop of beans and start beets, turnips, spinach, carrots and lettuce for harvest as we wait for old man winter. We also don't want to forget peas either, especially the sugar snaps and snow peas.

Madam is off on a trip to spend a day teaching some folks how to preserve their vintage clothing so I am left to do the blanching and freezing today and the day is warming up. After a few days of rain the high summer is back for a few days and the humidity is going to make it seem even hotter. It's good that we got all that canning done while it was cooler and overcast.