Thursday, August 26, 2010

Freezing Eggplant

One of the plants that thrives in hot, dry weather such as we've been having lately (105° anyone?), is eggplant.

We have been getting generous portions from our CSA.

Here is a link that we were given that has freezing instructions.

Looking at that, I was inspired by the idea of baked or grilled eggplant ready to pull from the freezer.

I preheated the oven to 450°, sliced the eggplant 1/2" thick, placed them in lightly oiled jellyroll pans, brushed them with olive oil and put them in to bake for 10 minutes per side (20 minutes total).

When done, they were beautifully browned on one side and soft when poked with a fork. I layered them with waxed paper and put them in 1-pound batches into the freezer.

This is especially handy in dealing with a glut since I love eggplant but have yet to persuade the rest of the family to share my delight. Tom doesn't mind it but no one else is very happy to see it show up.

The Unseen Heroes: Organic Farmers

Our CSA farmer has suffered greatly this year from terrible weather (too cold, then floods, then drought, then more floods ...), too few bees because of that cold weather, and now from squash beetles. Hearing about their struggles makes me appreciate the accomplishment it is to get in a good organic crop. Nature is out to get those plants before we do. Here is a sample from a recent update:
As we told some of you at last Saturday's delivery we had to sacrifice the second crop of yellow squash, zucchini, and patty pan because the plague of squash bugs had gotten so bad after working so many hours manually killing them and removing the eggs. The nasty bugs were just about to migrate to the second crop of cantaloupe and watermelons. We could not allow that to happen as the cantaloupes and watermelons look good. The squash bugs ruined our cantaloupe and watermelons one year as we didn't think they would be affected by squash bugs, but found out they will destroy them as well as squash. So we used our propane burner tractor attachment and destroyed them all along with the eggs and nymphs. It took quite a long time and used a full 58 gallon tank of propane, but hopefully we have "stayed the plague" and saved our cantaloupe and watermelons. This is part of growing organic. We could have provided some beautiful squash if we were using conventional methods---just spray them with harmful pesticides, kill all of the bugs, and have squash. However, we are committed to organic only and will continue growing produce accordingly. We will plant a third crop of yellow squash, zucchini, patty pan, butternut, and acorn squash tomorrow. I am sure we didn't kill every squash bug, but I believe 98% of them so hopefully the third crop of all the squash will produce abundantly in the fall.
I must say, though, that the crops we do receive have been the freshest and highest quality I have ever had since my parents' big gardening days. It is definitely worth the trouble.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Chips Bag May Break the Sound Barrier

Frito-Lay makes a lot of noise marketing its Sun Chips snacks as "green." They are cooked with steam from solar energy, the message goes.

But its latest effort—making the bags out of biodegradable plant material instead of plastic—is creating a different kind of racket. Chip eaters are griping about the loud crackling sounds the new bag makes. Some have compared it to a "revving motorcycle" and "glass breaking."

It is louder than "the cockpit of my jet," said J. Scot Heathman, an Air Force pilot, in a video probing the issue that he posted on his blog under the headline "Potato Chip Technology That Destroys Your Hearing." Mr. Heathman tested the loudness using a RadioShack sound meter. He squeezed the bag and recorded a 95 decibel level. A bag of Tostitos Scoops chips (another Frito-Lay brand, in bags made from plastic) measured 77.
There was a certain amount of validation (and amusement) in reading this Wall Street Journal article. I kid you not, you really can't hear yourself think when you are rustling around in this chips bag. Tom immediately began laughing and saying that some poor person at Frito Lay was going nuts now trying to dampen the sound. Looks as if he was right!