Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Support local farmers' efforts to become part of the Slow Food Nation movement. Two local Providence Restaurant owners / chefs that invest in local foods Farmstead and New Rivers are holding The Rhode Island Aquaculture Dinner on Sunday, March 30 at New Rivers. The cost for the five-course dinner is $75 and includes mollusks, bivalves and more. The money from the dinner sill send Rhode Island farmers to the Slow Food Nation show in San Francisco. Call New Rivers at 401-751-0350.
"Slow Food Nation inspires and empowers Americans to build a food system that is good, clean and fair.The world's most pressing questions regarding health, culture, the environment, education, social justice and the global economy are all deeply connected to the food we eat and how it is produced. Slow Food Nation is an event at the center of a movement with national impact and global implications. It will engage tens of thousands of attendees in learning how everyday choices affect our wellbeing, our culture and the health of the planet. The event will be held from August 29 to September 1, 2008 in San Francisco, and will bring hundreds of farmers and food artisans from across the country to present an extraordinary range of foods and preparation techniques. It will offer activities for all ages, including food, music, talks, forums, workshops, films and exhibits, all highlighting food that supports an agricultural system that is good, clean and fair."
Have you heard of CSA's? No, not CFL's the light bulbs, not CPA's the number crunchers ... CSA Community Supported Agriculture. You basically "sign-up" with a local farm to buy a "share" of the local food grown at that farm. This way you are supporting local farms and living a greener lifestyle by purchasing local foods as they are ready in your local area -- as oppossed to paying for food that's been motored to your grocery store all the way from South America. To connect to a local farm near you go to www.localharvest.org . If you are in the greater Providence, Rhode Island area, or close to Little Compton, Rhode Island there is a wonderful organic and I.P.M. CSA that is worth checking out. www.wishingstonefarm.com You can pick up your "share" from Wishing Stone in Providence or in Little Compton right at the farm (which incidentally is just down the street from our tiny summer place). Wishing Stone allows you to pick what you want from what they have available as opposed to giving you a pre-packed box or bag. Different farms handle distribution differently. Don't delay though, because shares sell out.
Phosphates. Just what are they? Have you seen the labeling on cleaning products boldly claiming "contains no phosphates". Well, that got me to thinking, What on earth are they? Why are they bad for the environment? and What HAS phosphates IN them? Well, the short answer is:
- A) Dishwasher Detergent is the most common place you will find phosphates in your home. FYI: After a few trials, the best most effective phosphate-free dishwasher detergent I've used is Seventh Generation.
- B) Phosphates basically act like a fertilizer that when they enter water tables, rivers, lakes ... etc. they over produce algae that rob the water of all of the oxygen then of course fish and other aquatic organisms die.
- C) It's serious enough that when the government recognized the problems that phosphates were causing, local governments started putting limits on the amount of phosphates allowed in products. In Washington State for example, by 2010 phosphate levels cannot exceed 0.5 percent.
But, it's more complicated than that. About a month ago I did some research online and copied a few articles to a file ... but regretably didn't record where I got them from. So, sorry I'm not to be able to reference these. However, for what it's worth, here are more in depth explainations:
From Article 1:
Eutrophication is the natural aging process of a body of water such as a bay or lake. This process results from the increase of nutrients within the body of water which, in turn, create plant growth. The plants die more quickly than they can be decomposed. This dead plant matter builds up and together with sediment entering the water, fills in the bed of the bay or lake making it more shallow. Normally this process takes thousands of years.
Cultural eutrophication is an unnatural speeding up of this process because of man's addition of phosphates, nitrogen, and sediment to the water. Bodies of water are being aged at a much faster rate than geological forces can create new ones.
In testing for cultural eutrophication, one would expect to find an algal bloom or scum on the water accompanied by a fishy smell to the water and a low dissolved oxygen content. Do not expect to find a high phosphate reading if the algae is already blooming, as the phosphates will already be in the algae, not in the water. The algae bloom should start where running water enters the lake or bay, so test the water before the area where the bloom begins for high phosphate and nitrate levels.
Monitors should be aware that there are different kinds of phosphates in the water, but a total phosphate-phosphorous reading is all that is needed to calculate the water quality. Use the chart below to rate your water sample:
How phosphorous affects aquatic life
If too much phosphate is present in the water the algae and weeds will grow rapidly, may choke the waterway, and use up large amounts of precious oxygen (in the absence of photosynthesis and as the algae and plants die and are consumed by aerobic bacteria.) The result may be the death of many fish and aquatic organisms.
Environmental Impact: Rainfall can cause varying amounts of phosphates to wash from farm soils into nearby waterways. Phosphate will stimulate the growth of plankton and aquatic plants which provide food for fish. This may cause an increase in the fish population and improve the overall water quality. However, if an excess of phosphate enters the waterway, algae and aquatic plants will grow wildly, choke up the waterway and use up large amounts of oxygen. This condition is known as eutrophication or over-fertilization of receiving waters. This rapid growth of aquatic vegetation eventually dies and as it decays it uses up oxygen. This process in turn causes the death of aquatic life because of the lowering of dissolved oxygen levels. Phosphates are not toxic to people or animals unless they are present in very high levels. Digestive problems could occur from extremely high levels of phosphate."
The main reason dishwashing-detergent phosphates didn't get the same treatment was that the best alternatives, enzymes, were neither common nor cheap even as late as the early '90s. There was also the influence of heavy lobbying by detergent makers and phosphate cheerleaders to keep them in. And so phosphates remain in many detergents at varying levels, even though they don't need to be there.
There are plenty of eco-friendly, phosphate-free alternatives that wash dishes just as well or better than phosphate-laden ones. And you probably won't be surprised to learn that mainstream, big-name detergents have lots of other suspect ingredients that are derived from petroleum and aren't so environmentally benign, a main one being artificial fragrances. So it's best to use one of the eco-brands anyway, and any eco-brand worth its eco-label will be phosphate- and chlorine-free.
Some states and localities are starting to severely limit or ban phosphates in dishwasher detergent too. My spiffy home state of Washington signed new rules into law this year that will keep the phosphorus content in dishwashing detergent to 0.5 percent beginning in 2010. It's a significant cut, since detergents now contain up to 9 percent."
Hope you find this interesting and informative. Enjoy!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Saturdays from 12 noon to 3 pm, Inside AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence
Here is the website: www.farmfreshri.org
A bit about the Providence Wintertime Farmers' MarketLocal food all winter long. The chickens are still laying eggs. The salad greens are so leafy and crisp. The onions and garlic are packing spice. The apples and squashes are getting sweeter by the day. Join us for the start of another 365 days of local food. Chefs and eaters, one and all, come enjoy all that grows in Rhode Island year-round! Plus aprons, bowls, cups and calendars by Providence artists for your culinary-inclined loved ones. And hot coffee and brunch next door at Taqueria Pacifica. ALL WINTER LONG: Lettuces, arugula, bok choi, kale, collards, cabbage, chard, apples, cider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, radishes, chilis, fresh herbs, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, oysters, beef, pork, Narragansett Creamery cheese, eggs, honey, maple syrup DECEMBER: Wreaths and trees, broccoli, cauliflower MARCH: maple syrup MAY: asparagus ALSO from non-farm RI producers: jams, jellies, tortillas, johnnycake mix, chocolates, fair-trade coffee by the pound, gifts for your favorite foodie** More farmers and vendors to be announced...**
Isn't this exciting??!
Remember, eating locally is GREEN -- saving all of the energy it takes to ship your food all the way from California ... or worse, China or South America!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
What a great family night birthday celebration we had at Scott (aka "Moose") and Tanya's house. We were blessed to also have in our company Auntie Alison, Rip and Tim.
From L to R, top to bottom: Dylan, Rip, Orion, Reese, Tim, Tanya, Benjamin, Auntie Alison, Glen, Scott, Ripley, Victor, Sandy, Sue, Rosalie, David.
In the center of the picture is a family favorite that my mom always made for us growing up -- carrot cake. It's Scott's stand-by request for his birthday cake. It is an easy cake to make and always a crowd pleaser. Here is the recipe:
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C oil
Mix dry ingredients together, then add to the above:
2 C + 2 T flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t (heaping) cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 C chopped pecans
Then, stir in:
3 1/2 C grated carrots (about 7-8 carrots) (if you want to save time, you could buy a bag of grated carrots)
Butter cake pans
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Whip together in a mixer:
1 stick butter (use salted, and just don't add any salt)
8 oz package of cream cheese
2 t vanilla
lemon juice to taste
1 box confectioner's sugar
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Here is Ripley skating! (He has the red Portuguese Soccer Shirt on ... the closest thing we have to a hockey shirt and he likes to "dress the part") Today, Ripley went to his class and participated all by himself. After the class, I skated with him and took these pictures and videos. I can't tell you how excited I was after four weeks taking him out on the ice myself and basically begging and pleading him to participate. Yea! Success!
- Pour boiling water over white cornmeal and salt in medium-large bowl. Mix until smooth. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Disolve sugar in 1/2 C lukewarm water and stir in yeast. Let sit 10 minutes until foamy.
- Rapidly wisk yeast mixture with fork, then stir into the cornmeal mixture.
- Add 3 C flour and 1/2 C luke warm water slowly and alternately until combined.
- Knead 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.
- Gather into a ball and let rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 90 minutes.
- Gently punch down (one of the new things I've learned is that I was punching down to violently ... punching down is hardly supposed to be a punch. More like a gentle caress.)
- Make a round loaf, ROLL in your 1/2 C of white cornflour, and put into greased pie plate.
- Rise 45 minutes or until doubled.
- Sprinkle with more of the white cornflour just before baking.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes. (I'm going to try starting oven at 475, lower once you put the bread in the oven, then cook for 40 minutes. Last time I cooked it for 35.)
- Transfer to wire rack to cool. Don't cut until cooled. Cooling is part of the bread baking process.
Let me know if you try it and how it comes out! Yumola! Enjoy!