Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweet Lemon Kumquat Marmalade

Use less sugar or no sugar if you like the basic sweetness of the fruit. The orange also adds sugar and orange zest gives the marmalade a pronounced zesty acidity while the pulp adds a tinge of bitterness.

Our lemon kumquats are sour and so we wait till they fall of the tree to eat them. The tree is planted in a pot outside the front door for full southern exposure.

One small apple peeled and cored diced fine (used for its pectin and as a sugar substitute.)
Twelve to 20 kumquats chopped into small piecies. For the larger kumquats cut them in three, then remove the seeds and then chop. Should make two cups.

One orange, zest peeled with a potato peeler, then zest chopped fine, then pith removed and tossed, and then the fruit cut fine.
Mix and cook in the 5” pot for two hours in the summer position to get the fruit soft and mushy.

Stir two cups organic brown fair trade sugar into lemon mixture and let cool for a couple of hours. Organic brown fair trade sugar is sold at Whole Foods and other stores under the name Organic Sucanat. Look for the Fair Trade certified label. As you can tell from the recipes we use very little sugar so we might as well buy the kind that will do right by the people and the planet.

Using a slotted spoon transfer most of the fruit to a blender and puree. Return to the pot, in the summer position, for another hour. The sun is almost 30 deg east from the winter rise and much higher in the sky making the summer position possible from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Let cool, bottle and save in the refrigerator. I use standard, recycled bottles, because the sugar is a preservative. If you are going to give it away as gifts learn how to use and process canning jars. and check the wiki.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Greek style organic lentils- reduce agricultural runoff

One cup lentils, or mixed lentils and beans, two cups water, soaked overnight.
One stalk celery diced fine.
Two carrots diced fine or shredded.
One bunch swiss chard or beet greens, spines removed, chopped into inch squares.
One clove garlic chopped fine.
Two tablespoons hot new mexico chili power.
1/4 teaspoon cayenne.

To remove the spines trim the leaf along both sides of the spine as far as possible. Or if you don’t like putting a metal surface to leaves fold the leaf along the spine and tear the stalk out. You can use the stalks for stock or compost them.

Layer with the legumes on the bottom and cook with the reflector on for almost two hours. You want it soft. Longer if overcast.

Two spring onions chopped fine.
Handfull parsley chopped fine.
Juice of half a lemon. Equal part Olive Oil.
One clove crushed garlic.
Salt to taste.
Beat and pour over. Mix.
Garnish with yogurt before serving.

To make a crostini blend it all with enough olive oil to make it spreadable. Crostini is a spread for day old bread that is toasted before serving for an appetizer or to accompany a salad.

Why organic lentils?
Lentils in this area are generally from India or Italy. They are grown in CA but not in enough volume to supply the demand. This has more to do with the decline of wheat and barley as commercial crops in CA.

They grow best in dry climates which is mostly all of California and are an ideal food high in nutirents, protein, and carbohydrates. But they are displaced by more profitable crops like rice. I say displaced because rice like lentils is not a natural food staple for Californians. Our food cultures are influenced by what business brings to market.

Rice is water intensive and strangely able to grow anywhere in the world and most places are self sufficient in rice. The growth is primarily a means of shipping water since poor rice growing areas like Egypt can import rice rather than allocate water for its growth. Rice typically requires from 4 to 10 acre-ft of water to produce a rice crop in California

Regions like Vietnam and the Indian Ganges basin would make natural suppliers. But nations monkey with the flow of water and provide business with the ability to grow rice unsustainable. Today California is a major producer of rice.

Lentils on the other hand are grown as rotation crops and require dithiocarbamate and organophosphate mostly in Washington State. These chemicals lead to increased periphyton growth and perhaps even stimulate algal blooms including protozoa.

“Chemicals originating from agricultural activity enter the aquatic environment through
atmospheric deposition, surface run-off or leaching (Kreuger, 1999) and frequently
accumulate in soft-bottom sediments and aquatic organisms (Miles and Pfeuffer, 1997;
Lehotay et al., 1998; Kreuger et al., 1999). In all parts of the world pesticides have been
found in the aquatic ecosystem and often information of how these pesticides affect inhabiting
organisms is missing. In canals in south Florida more than 700 pesticide detections were made
between 1991 and 1995 (Miles and Pfeuffer, 1997). Both commonly used pesticides and pesticides withdrawn from the market years ago do reach and/or accumulate in aquatic
ecosystems and thereby constitute a threat to all aquatic organisms.”

According to the CDC some studies in adults and children have linked organophosphate exposure to lymphoma and leukemia. Home pesticide use overall has been linked to childhood cancers such as soft tissue sarcomas, leukemias, and cancer of the brain.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Brown Rice- Why Califonia organic?

Soak one cup in two and a half cups water overnight in the 5”pot. Cook for two hours with something else or by itself.

Brown rice can be eaten whole in the morning like cereal with milk and maple syrup. Or as a staple with the meal.

Rice prices have been going up resulting in riots in Haiti, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Many countries like India and Egypt have put restrictions on exports to maintain domestic supplies. I pick up bags of Massa Organic Rice at the Chico Farmers Market. Its also available at markets in San Francisco. Rice is under pressure recently from genetics but fortunately is able to hold its own in California thanks to Lundberg and AB2622.

Chicken curry with potatoes

One onion chopped into thin strips which are then halved.

Half inch ginger. Two cloves garlic. Chop fine.

2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon tumeric powder.
One or two serano chilis chopped fine (less to your taste)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil.

One large potato chopped into 1/2 inch piecies. Layer into the pot. Watch the quantity.
Two small tomatos chopped into tiny piecies. Layer.
Salt to taste.

Cook for an hour or more until potatoes are done.

Chicken chopped into 1” pieces layered on top.
Sprinkle with garam masala to color chicken.

Cook for another hour. Indian chicken in throughly cooked and the potatoes are done till they are soft and mushy.

Remove and add a handfull of cilantro chopped fine. Mix by turning everything over in the pot and let cool before serving.

Serve with plain rice.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chard with Beets: seasonal food has less pesticides

Raymond from the organic Calderon Farm table at the farmer's market has very good looking chard, beets and celery this time of year.

One bunch chard and one bunch beet leaves chopped into one inch strips and then soaked and rinsed in cold water to remove any mud.

Layer in the 6” oval roaster with
remaining stalks cut fine.
One stalk celery cut fine.
One crushed garlic,
salt to taste,
two tablespoons hot new mexico chilli powder.

Rinse and peel the beets and then cut into 1/ 8” slices and add to layers.

Cook in the winter position with the reflector, for 1.5 hours. Mix with two tablespoons white wine vinegar and one tablespoon olive oil before serving.

Use the rinse water on your plants!

Where our food is grown makes a big difference. There are trace amounts of pesticide in organic food from surrounding farms in a process called pesticide drift. The pattern of residues found in organic foods tested by the PDP, a Congress funded USDA program from 1991 called the “Pesticide Data Program”, differs markedly from the pattern in conventional samples. Conventional fruits are 3.6 times more likely to contain residues than organic fruit samples and conventional vegetables are 6.8 times more likely to have one or more detectable residue.

Compared to organic produce, conventional samples also contain multiple residues. Imported foods consistently contain more residues than domestic samples, regardless of market claim. "A few pro-pesticide activists have gone to great lengths to convince consumers that pesticide residues in organic foods are as risky as those in conventional foods. Fortunately, these claims do not pass the laugh test."

Conventional agriculture is addicted to toxic death. Sprayed from the sky these toxins spread with capriciousness of the wind god. The government, in the pocket book of large corporate farmers, does nothing. So an NGO developed a reporting system for farmers to report drift.
And Panna has developed a drift catcher to help in reporting.

And Organic Consumer has asked for new rules to protect consumers in this article by Larry Jacobs who grows organic Del Cabo tomatoes at a coop in Cabo San Lucas and Santa Cruz and which are available at most grocery stores around here.

But we have the power to choose our food wisely. Buying organic and local has relevance to what kind of pesticides we consume. In Did your shopping list kill a songbird? BRIDGET STUTCHBURY notes that the imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States. Leonard Doyle reaches the same conclusion: The number of migratory songbirds returning to North America has gone into sharp decline due to the unregulated use of highly toxic pesticides and other chemicals across Latin America. Ornithologists blame the demand for out-of-season fruit and vegetables and other crops in North America and Europe for the destruction of tens of millions of passerine birds.

Learning how to eat seasonally from the farmers market is an important skill in planetary preservation.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Winter position

This is the solar oven in the winter position. For summer see this post.

It is open without the cover or reflector so that you can see the 6" oval roaster and the 5"round pot inside.
Note that it is standing on its narrow end so maximize solar exposure to the low winter sun.

This is the solar oven in the winter position with the cover and reflector on.

You would use it in this way from November to the solstice on March 21st.

You can still cook fish or light vegetables like zucchini without the reflector but just about anything else will not get hot enough. So the reflector is essential in the winter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Beechwood threatens the Coastal Commission.

Half Moon Bay is looking to a settlement with Yamagiwa in its 15 year dispute with Keenan over wetlands. Keenan developed the Whole Food's site in Palo Alto and knows how to do good infill development.

However the Beechwood settlement is flawed and threatens to runaround the Coastal Commission. A pro development majority on the Half Moon Bay City Council has embraced the flawed Yamagiwa decision and dragged their feet on the appeal.

Either way there were upsides to an appeal. The threatened bankruptcy would have benefited the coast and residents by reverting authority to the county. And appellate courts reduce judgments anyway. But the council sees an opportunity to bypass the Coastal Commission and under cover of the judgement give away large tracts for development.

The Coastal Commission while allowing some development has been the strongest landuse authority in the state protecting peoples health. In San Mateo the evidence is clear to see with miles of beautiful coastline, low pollution and clean air. This has also made the San Mateo coast the desired second home destination of wealthy people which has raised the stakes between large scale sprawl and coastal preservation. Weakening the coastal commission will improve sprawl's profitability with AB1991 at the expense of existing agricultural practices

Come on what’s not there to like here. The view of brussel sprouts and the smell of sea breezes? Or stop and go traffic, carbon monoxide and killer roads?

Agricultural land prices has continued to suffer as state subsidies for roads and infrastructure favor toxicity and imports at the expense of farmers. By not valuing environmental services from farmers such as carbon sequestration, wetland filtration, soil preservation, etc. the state forces landuse turnovers.

Created by ballot initiative to protect the coast and resident’s health the Coastal Commission is now seeing its authority eroded by two Sierra Club supported legislators. Both Leland Yee and Gene Mullins are rushing to support the Half Moon Bay city council in their misguided effort to rescue the city and the development deal. The council sees itself as the preserver of toxic development to erode our food basket. Steadier heads need to prevail. If for no other reason than that AB32 requires us to re-imagine how we use energy and build cities. Don’t rush AB 1991 through. The city should make the settlement work without AB 1991.