Just in Time

When it rains, it pours. Just in time to save the day is Clotilde, author of French Market Cookbook, who rapidly is becoming my new best friend. Shortly I will be overrun with cucumbers and cornichons and beside trying to give them away I will find her blog quite useful.

58 Ways to Use Cucumbers


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Running Scared?

Who doesn’t like a load of hooey first thing in the morning? I woke up to find this in my mailbox. It seems the efforts to take back the net have had an impact. Many, like myself, filed comments that urged the FCC to do its job and place the internet under Title II regulatory control. Try rationalizing the comments that Verizon made with the assessment that Estonia (#36 on the list) has better Internet service that the USA. Thank you sir, may I have another.

A former CATV lobbyist chairs the FCC. Don’t expect to see the USA as #35 anytime soon. It is all about corporate profits. No one in Washington truly cares about unregulated monopolies. No one in Washington truly cares about quality of service. If you are very lucky, you get what you pay for. In my personal experience, having dealt with regulated telecommunications and power companies across the country; the regulated were never so arrogant nor so unconcerned over customer complaints as the CATV industry. Their corporate pomposity demands regulatory oversight let alone that they are a de facto monopoly.

Perhaps every time that we have our streaming media feed delayed or slowed down, every time we have an interruption in service we should file a small claims suit demanding restitution. Unfortunately I suspect those suits would fail as the fine print in your service arrangement guarantees that you will pay or suffer the consequences but also guarantees they don’t actually have to deliver crap.

Keep sending cards and letters to your elected representatives and the FCC demanding that you and your American brethren be placed ahead of monopolistic pricing practices and monopolistic quality of service. The USA doesn’t have to be the best but it would be nice to break into the top ten.

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More Berries

The raspberries are still coming in strong:

Encore Raspberries 20 July 2014 Durham, NH

Encore Raspberries
20 July 2014 Durham, NH

And the Blackberries start today:

Ouachita Thornless Blackberries 20 July 2014 Durham, NH

Ouachita Thornless Blackberries
20 July 2014 Durham, NH

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Berry Season

We’ve been picking raspberries for a few weeks now, the blueberries started about a week ago and the blackberries are still a few weeks away.

Chandler Blueberries 20 July 2014 Durham, NH

Chandler Blueberries
20 July 2014 Durham, NH


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Honest All American Shrimp

Tired of eating farm raised shrimp, processed in Southeast Asia and supporting a system that uses slave labor? If price isn’t the first thing you consider when selecting what to put in your mouth, then you do have options. Buy American.

Whenever I get a craving for crawfish etouffée, alligator or frog legs I certainly don’t go to my local farmers’ market, I head straight for the CajunGrocer. I got word yesterday that the organic, free-range Gulf shrimp season is in full swing:

Louisiana Wild Caught Shrimp
The waters off the coast of Louisiana are home to one of the highest concentrations of white and brown shrimp. Brown and white shrimp are the most commonly caught species in the Gulf of Mexico. These two varieties account for roughly 90% of the total domestic caught shrimp. Brown(55%) White(35%). The remaining 10% are comprised mostly of pink shrimp.
White shrimp tend to be the most commonly sought variety due to their slightly milder flavor, which makes them very suitable for many different styles of cooking. Brown shrimp are known for having a stronger flavor and are suited better for battering and frying, but are also very versatile. Pink shrimp are less common in the Gulf of Mexico, but are mainly found off the coast of Florida. Pinks tend to grow considerably larger than the brown or white varieties, reaching up to 11 inches in length, and are known for being tender and sweet.

On questioning, CajunGrocer Customer Service provided the following comment:

“Our Gulf Shrimp are harvested off of the Gulf Coast and processed in Delcambre, LA, no slave labor is being used.”

Shrimp freeze well.  Buy with a conscience, Buy American.


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Easy as Pie

What better way to cap of Friday Night Fish Fry than with a wedge of home-grown cherry pie made with rendered local leaf lard?

Montmorency Cherry Pie 11 July 2014

Montmorency Cherry Pie
11 July 2014

This is the first year we have actually harvested any cherries, not sure who was getting them in the past but we are thankful they didn’t come around this year. Someone stripped the small set of Bing cherries and after snacking on about a dozen Rainier cherries, I decided to wait another day or two to harvest and they magically disappeared overnight. So far the tart cherries have been left untouched, there is another pie on the tree still.

We had never made a cherry pie before nor had we made a lard crust either. The analysis was an excellent flaky outer layer with a still warm sticky sweet, slightly tart interior. The trees are only 4 years old so we are counting on many more pies in our future.

After listening to my good friend Jim describe the cherry pies that he would make for his parents and friends along with the wonders of the classic Door County Montmorency Cherry, I decided to plant a few tart and sweet cherry varieties. We also have our friend Jim to thank for the Door County Cherry Pie Filling recipe. It is nice to have friends.

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Protect the Border

It is times like these, when invaders threaten to take the food from your mouth that I lose my libertarian values. I proudly don my commemorative “Stand your Ground” leather jacket. I join with our New Hampshire politicians by embracing Live Free or Die as the Tourism Counsel’s market tag line and nothing else.

It started a few weeks ago, nothing serious but nibble by nibble the sunflowers bit the dust:

Sunflower Damage 11 July 2014

Sunflower Damage
11 July 2014

They are trying to regrow leaves but we will see if they can recover.

Then in my 2′ high garden planters I noticed damage to my beets and green beans. Sunflowers always end up with the squirrels anyway so I hadn’t taken their damage too seriously but when you attack my beets you are attacking me.

Beet Damage 11 July 2014

Beet Damage
11 July 2014

Green Bean Damage 11 July 2014

Green Bean Damage
11 July 2014

We set a woodchuck trap out two nights ago with no luck. I was beginning to think that a deer was passing through the neighborhood. This afternoon I noticed some broken filbert branches and decided to go prune those before more damage occurred and as I was leaving the garage spotted a woodchuck nestled down in the beets having a snack. As I walked out towards him, granted not having a plan in mind, he jumped down between two planters assuming that if he couldn’t see me then I couldn’t see him.

I repositioned the Have-a-Heart trap on one side of the opening and with a garden rake I drove him back into the trap. Now relocated a few towns over where the property taxes are much more attractive than here.

Illegal Alien 11 July 2014

Illegal Alien
11 July 2014


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Nasturtiums June 2014 Durham NH

June 2014 Durham NH

Bumblebees typically show up early and stay late on our nasturtiums. They have been flowering for over a week now and I have yet to see any pollinators showing interest. I saw a few bumblebees on the blueberries in May and moths on the blackberries but so far this year not as much activity as I would like. The blueberries, raspberries and blackberries all have a heavy fruit set. The catbirds are already attacking the goumis even though they are far from ripe and something wiped out our Rainer cherries, we had two dozen the day before losing the harvest. Pollinators have been active but operating in stealth mode.

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Decline of the American Empire?

Our military has become accustomed to using mercenaries, we are rapidly going robotic to pursue our military agenda as recruits lack the necessary skill sets for advanced weaponry. Our corporations are accelerating the exodus of employment overseas and moving their corporate offices presumably to avoid taxes. But is this really about the lack of a coherent corporate tax policy or is it a more troubling effect caused by our ineffective education system?

We lack a robust trades education program thereby discouraging manufacturing from coming back to the USA even while our average wage costs have become more competitive that foreign labor. We rely on slave labor for our shrimp. We rely on foreign manufacturing for our daily conveniences. We import 91% of  our seafood. Check the labels on your clothes. Everyone, regardless of personal interests or aptitude, gets pushed toward the mythical 4 year degree that seems to guarantee a pile of student loans, minimal improvement in employment opportunities and too many left saying ‘Welcome to McDonald’s’. Schools seem better at providing day care than life’s basic educational building blocks.

Education has become all about entertaining the little darlings instead of beating something into their heads. I am not sure if education started the down hill pitch when they took the rulers away from the nuns or our Federal Government started to exercise control via the check book. One thing is sure, we have been going down hill for a long time but we are not at the bottom yet.

The Federal Education Department should be eliminated. All Federal education programs should be stricken. Local communities should be fully responsible and accountable for the education of their children. Education cost increases trace back to the elimination of our one room school houses in favor of large consolidated districts with their bloated administrative staffs. Our current system has schools chasing Federal dollars instead of making sure that basic reading, writing and math skills are ingrained into every child. Those are the skills that successful children need. Those are the skills that survive every technological evolution. Our educational system won’t improve until local communities wrest control away from the professional education administrators and insist on accountability at the local community level.

Smart kids will survive a poor education. The vast majority are doomed. We aren’t dominated by smart kids.

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Grand Conspiracy

Yes, I would like to see revised food labeling regulations. Yes, I would like NSA disclosure on all the Congressional email and phone conversations they are sitting on. We could all stand a good laugh now and then. Even as a devote libertarian, I have often thought the Tea Party a bubble off plumb but now along comes the Texas Republican Party with their new platform plank that “includes support for voluntary psychological therapy targeted at converting homosexuals to heterosexuals”. I suppose this is what comes from teaching creationism and including a beer coozie and gun rack with every pick-em-up purchased. Well, yes, it does beat having to buy your own gun rack and I suppose, they are from the south, don’t talk that fast so you shouldn’t expect them to drink that fast either. However, none of that is a conspiracy; stupidity rules them out.

Friends are coming over for a brat fest tonight. Why do the brat/hotdog manufacturers package 5 to a pack when the roll bakeries package 6 to a pack? You can’t find symmetry until you buy 6 packages of brats and 5 of rolls. What is that all about anyway? Can we get a Congressional Hearing on something meaningful for a change? This has been going on ever since we stopped having real butcher shops and began buying prepackaged meats.

I can buy baked beans in every size imaginable, from individual to glutton (is that redundant?). In a time when everyone is buzzing over sustainability and zero food waste we face this dilemma too frequently. What reasonable person (this avoids the vegan discussion) would eat a brat roll with only sautéed onions & peppers, Dijon and relish? They would call you Texan if you tried to donate a single brat roll to the local Food Bank.

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