When is honey not honey?
August 20, 2011, 6:13 pm
Filed under: bees, food issues | Tags: ,

I wrote about honey laundering a ways back. Here’s an updated view of the story. Honey being shipped from China and moved around from country to country, labels changing, hoping to find its way to our shelves. What’s interesting about this story are the new lengths that people can go to mask the fact that the honey comes from China. Ultrafiltering can be done to remove all traces of the originating pollen sources and antibiotics. They can even make a fake honey–blending artificial sweeteners with a tiny bit of honey. Now that’s sad! The US produces only 48 percent of the honey it uses each year, so there is a big demand for imported honey.


tomato patch 2011
And so it begins…the counter is lined up with tomatoes. This year’s line up includes:
Ilini Star (I have no idea why I planted this one–sounded good in the catalog but it’s really just a market tomato–and why would we grow that??!) A nice round smallish tomato. It makes a lot, and they’re early. Taste is just ok.
Paul Robeson. Year two for this one. Last year it didn’t do so well! This year is much better. It’s making a lot of really big fruit. Taste is good. But I’ll wait til later in the season to judge for real.
Japanese Black Trifele. Our favorite. Neat pear shaped smaller tomatoes dark in colour. A nice one. Taste is fantastic! Love it on a big mixed plate of tomatoes!
Love Apple. Don’t know why I picked this one and I don’t know that we’ve tried one yet. Stay tuned.
Woodle Orange. Just had one today for lunch. It’s more yellowy than orange. Pretty good size fruit. Tasty! People say Dad’s Sunset is better, I’ll try that next year.
Marzano. Our sauce tomato. This year–unbelievable size on these!! (And all of our tomatoes are super huge). Needed a few more plants I think, as they’re ripening at different speeds–so it’s hard to make a whole sauce!
Cherokee Purple. They’re big too. Jury is out on the big taste test. I’ll wait til best pal comes down for our final taste test tomato extravaganza.
Black Krim. Another dark type. We grew a few years ago. A nice black, but no japanese black trifele. We’ll give it another shot to compete this year.
The tomatoes this year are really large! Tons of fruit! Late to ripen, but not much disease so far. Lots of chippy damage. It’s a shame to throw big two pounders over the fence.
Next year we will need to get some green moldovan. We really liked that one! And I’d like another yellow. I think the love apple is pink. Maybe it’ll be a keeper?

barn hidden by tomato plants in front yard

ilini star got some disease but she make a lot of tomatoes!

tomato dinner
August 16, 2011, 4:55 pm
Filed under: gardening, tomatoes

first tomato dinner 2011

Ah tomatoes 2011. Another interesting season. After last year’s crazy canning compensation (for 2009 tomato blight bust) we toned it down. And planted only about 15 plants. But another year another trouble. This year the plants look AMAZING. The fruits on them are AMAZING too. The biggest most unbelievably huge tomatoes we’ve ever grown.

So what’s the problem you ask?? Well, they’re late. We had our first tomato dinner well into August, which is unusual. And the crazy heat wave this year might have impacted the ripening of some of them. Green shoulders that kind of thing. But the biggest problem this year–animals. Sigh. Over half the crop–I reach down through the leaves to the ripe tomato, and UGH–it’s half eaten. Sigh. I throw it over the fence. Chickens love that. I do not!!

peach cobbler!!!
August 16, 2011, 4:42 pm
Filed under: cherries, dessert, recipe | Tags: , , ,

a lot of peaches

Wowee. This was good. Easy too. Unusual steps though.

You put 1/4 cup of butter in a baking dish and warm it in the preheating oven til melted. Take it out.
Peel 9 peaches and chop em up. Cook them on the stove with 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to boil then take off heat.
In a bowl mix 1 cup flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar. Pinch of salt. Stir in 1 cup of milk then pour the batter over the butter in the dish. Don’t mix it up. Pour peaches over top. Bake in the oven til golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream!! Great hot or cold.

This makes a nice cobbler, a sweetish dough, puffy sort of angel food cake like almost. Very different from the sticky oatmeal crisp variety bake. Both have their place, this was a nice change. I recently made two clafoutis–this peach cobbler is in between clafouti and a biscuit type of dough. Here’s last year’s clafouti, and this year’s version. I think I liked this year’s version (I doubled the recipe).

From a recipe here.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

  • Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  • Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
  • Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  • Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool.

chickens in the factory, climate change edition

Have you hugged your power plant today?

I just can’t stop thinking about a story I heard a few weeks back. 50,000 chickens/4300 turkeys die in separate cases of power outages (one in NC and one in Kansas). Get this, 50,000 chickens died after the power was out for 45 minutes. Less than an hour. 45 minutes between life and death. How horrifying. And it took the folks 26 hours to bury all those turkeys.

Apparently our food system is just this fragile. The birds are jammed in there, it’s hot and needs ventilation even if it’s not 100 degrees outside. A quick google search shows that this is not an isolated incident.

July 2011: Minnesota, reporting nearly 50,000 turkeys died in the heat.
September 2010: 60,000 chickens die in North Carolina. A generator powering fans in the chicken houses quit working.

And Meat & Poultry report that nearly 100,000 broilers have been reported lost to the heat wave in July. In the northern areas, barns don’t have great ventilation systems. Some grow sheds have 20,000 birds in them!

So while some of the farms have back up generators to power the fans, any interruption of the power supply can lead to major losses. Hard to believe that less than an hour is all is takes to do it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change, and while plans suggest that cows will produce less milk in climate change models, I didn’t connect the dots to see that for factory farms, there will be a much increased reliance on a stable power supply. Spooky side effects of factory farming people! Spooky. And really, just a big waste for a pile of unnoticed, unmemorable, tasteless drug-laden,  protein nuggets.