range resources targets farmers in SWPA on TV!
September 30, 2010, 3:55 pm
Filed under: marcellus, utilities | Tags: , , ,

Ah, so here it comes folks. We heard that a new marcellus drilling tax is coming to the legislature, no doubt the politicians are eager to get their hands on all that cash! It’ll be the highest tax in any state if it passes. Sigh. See here Post Gazette, or here, which talks about the Republican plan to convert the state’s vehicle fleet 16000 cars to clean burning natural gas. Hmm.

Anyhow, we were sitting around watching tv on the weekend, and there it was. Even though we were chitchatting something about the commercial caught my eye.

Alas youtube and google let me down and I couldn’t find it online to share with you all. It was a most interesting commercial! It caught my eye even before I saw the tag line. It showed a farmer, going on about how hard it is to be a farmer (yeah I’m with you man). How he had to take two jobs to keep the farm. Working 16 hours (right on bro!) Look at those poor cows, the dejected older man. Working so hard his whole life. Ok…???

And, punch line–so now it’s MY turn. My opportunity. Or something like that. Yep it’s his turn–just sign on the dotted line and here comes payday! Sign over the land, and get the gas paycheck. I see that Range Resources (who did the ad) has just built a big office in WV.

What was scary about the commercial was just how in line it is. We noticed on our drive way back when–that in fact, the area is quite poor. Lots of folks would easily jump at the chance for a big payday. Why wouldn’t they?

It was all rather depressing. You can watch a bunch of different ads on their website.

Here’s an interesting article about the issue from the business side of things. According to Forbes, Range Resources is King of Marcellus Shale. And there are a few farmers who are making a stink about their water issues, but meh, no biggie. The “paranoia” should die back.

And RR stands to gain– pretty much no matter what happens. They bought a lot of land at 1000.00 an acre (now it’s 14,000 an acre). Of the 500 trillion estimated available in the Shale deposits–or a 20 year supply for the US, Range has 3.1 trillion. And they can separate out those other products (ethane, propane, isobutane) and sell them at a premium! (My understanding is that those specialty items are not included in the farmer’s lease either–so more $ to the corp!

Final interesting point from article: They can still be profitable even if gas prices drop 50%. Our friend noted that this particular company is doing a lot of PR work out east of here. You know–building a big hockey complex for the local town, or buying the best in show hog for an outrageous of money at the county fair! I haven’t located media references for these endeavors, but it seems that they’re really doing their homework–and they realize they need to work a tad bit harder–people are suspicious!


goat pen
September 29, 2010, 7:47 pm
Filed under: farm, goats | Tags: , , ,

Here are the finished pics of the goat pen. Earlier pictures of the projects are here. We opened up the barn wall a put in a door so that the goats have a run-in shed for rainy days. They seem to like it.

ok, so it's a climbing thing, got it.

and this is the latch part

yo sidney, the good part is over here

gratuitous shot out the front barn door

honey laundering–US bees provide less than half of honey demand
September 28, 2010, 7:34 pm
Filed under: bees, food issues | Tags: , , , , , ,

Great piece of investigative reporting in Seattle Pi. This came through a bee list I’m on. It’s from 2008, but there is so much interesting stuff in here about how food products are shipped packed reshipped, tracked, etc–definitely worth another look! The article has some nice graphics about which countries are big exporters. And he talks about why we should care–the prohibited antibiotics being used, watering honey down, cutting it with corn syrup, etc. Basically it boils down to the Chinese trying to avoid high tariffs and anti-dumping regulations.

I need to look around and see if there have been any new developments on this.

Ok, I do loooove the google. I googled the reporter’s name, Andrew Schneider, and came up with this. As it happens a big arrest came through on this topic just this month.

A group of German and Chinese are charged with conspiring to import more than $40 million of Chinese honey to avoid paying anti-dumping duties of approximately $80 million! That’s a lot of honey. Customs seized 3200 drums of it! It makes me so sad to think of all that wasted bee labor.

The label changing game is interesting as one honey packer noted, “We estimate that millions of pounds of Chinese honey continue to enter the U.S. from countries that do not have commercial honey businesses!” Here’s a longer version of the article for AOL.

A nice discussion of the Chinese honey trade practice is also found here.

According to that article, “The United States produces less than half the honey that it consumes, relying on imports to make up the difference from major honey producers such as Canada, Argentina and Brazil. This article suggests that as much as a third of total imports come from countries with no significant commercial honey exporting business.

And four of the top eight countries – India, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Indonesia – export far more honey than their domestic bees produce!”

It sounds like a hard market to be in…and tough to be sure about the origin of your honey if you’re buying any of the big brands.

copenhagen faqs
September 27, 2010, 6:06 pm
Filed under: travels

Number of questions asked by immigration inspection in copenhagen airport: 0
Number of words spoken to us by immigration officer in copenhagen airport: 0
Number of officers visible in customs area inspection in copenhagen airport: 0

Ah, such a civilized land!

Number of days of maternity/ paternity leave: 365
Percent of tax on automobile purchase: 100%
Yes, that’s right. If your car costs 20,000, you pay another 20000 in tax! AND….
If it’s a luxury car, you pay 200%!

They also pay 400.00 a month to high school students living at home. And 900 if you live on your own.
And of course, university is free!

They don’t really get the vegetarian thing. At least in the places we were eating. It seemed to cause great consternation for the servers. They always asked–fish ok? And then they served us beets. Poor doode. His least favorite vegetable!

Well anyhow we survived. And we had a great time. More details to follow.

barley, beet, arugula and feta salad
September 17, 2010, 7:49 pm
Filed under: barley, recipe, salad

This is a favorite salad recipe. Not sure the doode loves it, but everyone else sure does! I’ve been making a variation of it for years now. A real keeper! I love barley!

Barley Beet Arugula Feta Salad

Inspired by this recipe.
1 pound beets
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley
2 cups trimmed arugula
1 cup trimmed and chopped green beans (optional and good if you don’t have enough arugula on hand)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 garlic cloves, minced


Cook the beets and barley in two pots. Or you could use canned beets I guess and cut that step out! Canned beets are pretty good actually. If you had some roasted beets leftover in the fridge, this is your fast recipe!

While you are cooking the barley and beets you will also need to toast up the walnuts on the stove in a fry pan. Wait til they smell good, but watch that they don’t burn!

Here’s how to prepare the barley and beet part:

Leave root and 1 inch stem on beets; brush clean. Place in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Trim off beet roots, and rub off skins. Cut beets into 1/4-inch-wide wedges.

Boil barley in broth or water as per directions on box–about 25-30 minutes. Simmer gently. Test for doneness–not hard, not falling apart, just tender. If you’re using green beans add them into the water about 5 or 6 minutes from end of cooking time. Then rinse with cold water in a sieve.

Ok so that was the hard part, now you just mix it all up! Combine the barley, arugula, beans walnuts, and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing ingredients–fennel is the key thing here don’t skip it! Toss to coat. Top with beets. YUM.

on men with causes–The Cove, Garbage Warrior
September 15, 2010, 6:40 pm
Filed under: movies | Tags: , , , ,

I recently watched a pair of movies that included an empassioned man who learns something late in life.
The first one was Garbage Warrior, a movie about an architect who has been working building sustainable dwellings out in New Mexico. He uses glass bottles and natural recyclable materials. It was an interesting tale about a guy who made his own way in the world. Eventually he attracted a sect of followers and they built a subdivision of so-called Earthships. He gets taken to task for violating about every building code in the town, and he goes through the legal political system to try and get clearance to continue building his stuff. He’s an older dude now, and it was pretty poignant when you can see him grappling with his failures. Why don’t they understand me? You’re a wack job dude. You’re a wack job. Anyhow it’s a pretty interesting story.

The other story was about a guy who lived the high life. Made lots of money in CA. Got famous. He was a dolphin trainer. And when his beloved pet died, he had a revelation. And then he spent the next half of his life until this day fighting to reverse the industry he helped to build. It’s a documentary called the Cove, and it’s about a mass dolphin slaughter that takes place each year in a hidden cove in Japan. A few dolphins are selected for the various Seaworlds and places like that, and the rest are rounded over into the hidden cove and killed. 23,000 of them! A year! The meat is toxic (mercury), and not widely preferred. It’s so weird! Why do they do it? Such a weird and sad story. On a lot of levels. The man leading the charge to expose the practice–is also kind of a wack job. He’s haunted, though. And dedicated to the cause. Very interesting man. And by the way, the documentary as a piece of filmmaking is AWESOME! You need to watch it just because it’s a great narrative, a great film. How they captured the footage of the kill is better than any spy movie. Funny, smart. The crazy dolphin dude recruited a great team.

Two interesting movies, two interesting guys.

As a PSA that relates to issues that both these dudes could probably get behind I heard about this campaign….the PB & J Campaign. Eat a plant based lunch, reduce your carbon footprint, save a Tuna!

a three ketchup night: Jamie, Blender, Currywurst
September 14, 2010, 3:43 pm
Filed under: recipe, tomato, tomatoes | Tags:

can you spot the heinz?

After 44 quarts of tomatoes, I got kind of tired of canning the darn things. What’s a girl to do? Make ketchup of course. We had watched that lovely show–Jamie at Home–and got inspired by his version. Why not try it?
And we can’t do anything half way–so instead of making one, we tried three!

Here they are simmering away.

from left: Jamie's, Currywurst, Blender in foreground

We had a nice time doing our big first sample dinner. We made some “Dad fries”–aka homemade potato chips as a vehicle.

potato chips and tomato salad

After a lot of sampling we made our judgements. YUM. They were all good! The blender version is sweeter than the others. The Jamie Oliver is interesting flavors–I made it a tad vinegary–taste as you add it you can’t go back. And the Currywurst is probably the stand out for me. The girl prefers the Blender version, the rest of us probably pick the Currywurst, though I think the doode might also choose the Blender version if he had to choose.

Here’s the recipes:

Jamie Oliver Ketchup

1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
Olive oil
Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 a fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 cloves
Sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound amazing cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 1 pound canned plum tomatoes, chopped or 2 pounds yellow, orange or green tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, chili, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.

Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.

Add the basil leaves, then whiz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender and push it through a sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.

from Small Batch Preserving

Makes 3 cups

7 cups chopped, peeled plum tomatoes, about 4 pounds
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches long
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Combine tomatoes, onion and red pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a large stainless-steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar and salt. Tie cinnamon, allspice, cloves, peppercorn and bay leaf in cheesecloth and add to saucepan. Return to a boil. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring frequently until volume is reduced by half or until mixture rounds up on a spoon without separating, about 90 minutes. Remove cheesecloth bag. Cool and store in a large jar or container in the refrigerator. I forgot to peel the tomatoes. It wasn’t too bad, but next time I think i’ll peel them!

Currywurst Sauce from Saveur.
Heat 2 tbsp. canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add 1 finely chopped large yellow onion; cook until soft, 8–10 minutes.
Add 2 tbsp. curry powder and
1 tbsp. hot paprika; cook for 1 minute more (I used a combination of smoked paprika and regular).
Add 2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes (with juice) into pan.
Add 1⁄2 cup sugar,
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar, and
salt to taste; stir well.

Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes. Purée sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a sieve. Serve hot over sausage. Makes about 1 1⁄2 cups.

I processed all of these in a boiling water bath in 8 oz jars for 5-10 minutes.