Thursday, October 10, 2019

Preserving the harvest

I still love cooking, with a special fondness for baking and preserving. But I have to say that my stamina and attention span for long involved processes has diminished.
So my favorite tools of the season are the Instant Pot, immersion blender, and food mill.
I've made two batches of marinara by simply throwing everything in the pot. Well, not exactly throwing - there is some rough chopping involved, and the onion and carrot and garlic get a bit of saute in the olive oil first. Then when it's all done and cooled some, I blitz it in the pot.
I've been portioning this out, mostly as one cupfuls for one person's pasta, and freezing it.
But I've had an idea which I hope will turn out to be a bright one. I'm going to make the recipe one more time, subbing peppers, sweet and hot, for the carrot and some of the onion, and using vinegar (sherry?) as the liquid instead of the wine called for in the original recipe guideline. When it's whizzed "to the desired consistency," as the recipes say, I'll have salsa. With my handy pH strips I can see if it's then okay to can, and do that to save a little freezer room.
Oh - and meanwhile I have some roasted small tomatoes, given the immersion blender treatment to use in tomato-herb bread.
Here's the guideline I've been using for the marinara:
https://www.simplyhappyfoodie.com/instant-pot-marinara-fresh-tomato-sauce/
Except with paste tomatoes - I have San Marzanos - using just one 6 ounce can of organic tomato paste to give it a little more backbone.
And https://www.daringgourmet.com/fresh-roasted-tomato-and-herb-bread/
This impossibly long blog entry has a good recipe for the bread, which has never met a cheese it didn't like.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

From the most recent Hazon e-blast

“Environmental teshuva” is shorthand for a further and renewed commitment to doing better for the planet. It’s a process for each one of us to think about what we are doing, or could or should be doing, going forwards. Environmental teshuva as a minimum – we believe – involves three elements:
  1. Making a commitment to further change in our own behavior. (We’re especially encouraging people to reduce or eliminate their consumption of industrial meat and dairy, which is one of the single largest drivers of anthropogenic climate change);
  2. Amplifying that by encouraging any institution you are part of to build or strengthen its Green Team, and enter into a multi-year process to drive systemic change...;
  3. Being a wider ambassador for change – by volunteering time and/or giving money.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Carbon Farming

We need monetary incentives for farmers transitioning to no-till and other carbon sequestration practices. We've made progress in California. More could be done, and lots more in federal programs.
https://thefern.org/2019/06/one-man-is-trying-to-save-the-world-from-climate-change-by-mobilizing-an-unlikely-team-iowas-farmers/
By the way - this is also an interesting article about the intersection of faith groups, agriculture, and climate change.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The information we have been seeking

I'm still annoyed that CNN did not allow free streaming of the climate town hall, but I probably wouldn't have learned much about the candidates' positions on climate change in relationship to agriculture and the food system. It's not an interest of urban media, even though everybody eats.

Here's a gift from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
https://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/climate-change-agriculture-presidential-debates/
I've not had time to study this and follow the links, and but until I do and can comment, here's the dope.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

August garden report

Better late than never.
Well, only a day late.
Tomatoes began appearing in August, and now are in full flush.
Rattlesnake pole string beans have passed into oblivion, but dry beans are going crazy in the same plot. I already have 3/4 pound of Good Mother Stallard. My forecast is 1 1/4 of them, less of Rio Zape and Christmas limas.
Plenty of summer squash and chard.
The winter squash plants (two in a hill) I thought might never do something erupted over night. They now have 6 or 8 butternuts in various stages of growth. They have lot of time to finish their growth and ripening.  The nearby green beans I got in late (Romano bush) have set some fruit; another week.
Winter squashes that went in earlier in other beds did not do so well, though it looks like five or six small fruit and soon.
Some may wonder why I plant things like beans for drying and winter squash in small community garden plots. It's simple; I like to grow real food, not just salad and greens.  Here, from a week or so ago.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sonoma County crop report

The 2018 edition is out, and available here
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Agriculture-Weights-and-Measures/Crop-Reports/
A friend reported that the conference yesterday launching it was not well attended. She brought by a copy of the power point handout. Under reporting, especially from small specialty crop growers, continues. But

  • For the first time, the gross value of agricultural product in Sonoma County exceeded one billion dollars.
  • It was a bumper year for wine grapes.
  • Tree fruit volume was down, but value way up. So local fruit is even less affordable for many of our residents?
  • Hard to figure out what's happening with the burgeoning cider business - how many of the processed apples are becoming an alcoholic beverage - or with cannabis production, which I'm guessing comes under another agency, even though it uses precious ag land. 
I am drinking more cider these days than wine. I enjoyed the cider tasting at the Gravenstein Apple Fair on Sunday. But it concerns me that more and more land is growing crops for alcohol or other intoxicants. I want the statistics on that.
And a btw. The pictures in the report are great, and much less fuzzy than this thumbnail. .
Crop Report 2018

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Back to School, Back to Hunger?

In a study published in April, from The Hope Center, the stats on food insecurity among college students were grim. Almost half of students in two-year colleges and about 2 out of 5 at four-year colleges experience some level of food insecurity. Hungry kids are not just an issue of grade and secondary schools.
I became aware of this issue when we gathered emergency food providers, networkers and advocates in the wake of the October 2017 fires here. I had no idea that Santa Rosa Junior College had a food pantry for students. Around the same time, a woman I chatted with at an activist event in Courthouse Square reported that members of the football team at the JC did not have an adequate diet. Scholastic and athletic performance are impaired when there isn't adequate nutritious food.
Some students may not be aware that they are eligible for SNAP - called CalFresh here.
Last month Senator Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Lawson, Democrat of Florida, introduced legislation which could help, the College Student Hunger Act.
The Government Accounting Office has also been studying food insecurity on campus. While their estimate of the severity of the problem is lower - around 30% of students at risk - they found that "almost 2 million at-risk students who are potentially eligible for SNAP did not receive benefits in 2016."
The act expands the criteria of eligibility for SNAP for students, provides for education and outreach about SNAP on campuses, and calls for pilot projects to make SNAP more useful in student dining halls and the like. 
Senator Warren's press release provides the information and links you need to learn more if you wish to advocate for this bill with your senators or congress-members. If they have signed on as co-sponsors - many have - be sure to thank them. 
https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senator-warren-and-representative-lawson-introduce-the-college-student-hunger-act-of-2019-to-address-hunger-on-college-campuses
And one more note. This is also a problem on elite campuses for students from low income families. When colleges pause for spring vacation, for example, dining halls close. If you can't afford to travel home and don't have a source of ready cash, even a full tuition, room and board scholarship doesn't result in a full belly.