White Pine Blister Rust

 

Current and prior year's White Pine Blister Rust Infections 21 April 2014 Durham NH

Current and prior year’s White Pine Blister Rust (Cronartium ribicola) Infections
21 April 2014 Durham NH

I guess it was a self-inflicted injury. I have decorated pastry with currant (ribes) clusters and thought it just a grand idea to grow some. In addition to providing fresh fruit, they dehydrate easily and go well in scones or muffins, make good jam, very interesting sorbet, are an attractive bush and provide a nice landscaping screen from the roadway. Fortunately, I did a little research and found I needed a State Permit before I could plant as none of the out-of-state suppliers would ship live plants without having a copy of my license. Not knowing which variety of White Pine Blister Rust (WPBR) resistant or immune currants were best for culinary purposes I opted for the shotgun strategy and got a broad sampling of seven currant varieties along with 4 gooseberry varieties. Only the Black Currant Titania produced any edible berries, in my opinion, and I had been planning to remove the other 6 currant varieties and replant with Titania suckers.

Perhaps it was because the USDA and NH Department of Resources and Economic Development have offices in Durham and I was a short distance away or because I had a variety of ribes species, either way I became a popular site for quick inspections. I have numerous pines around the house and on neighboring properties and I am happy the problem was identified before the damage got out of hand. The damaged pines can not infect other pines and although the damaged portions will not revive, the disease cycle requires a ribes species for a vital portion of its life cycle, their removal should end the ongoing infectious stages.

The effects were clear last fall, my currants tested positive, to varying degrees, for Cronartium ribicola (WPBR). I removed all the currants, but expect to see some self-starters this spring which will quickly get removed. I did keep the various gooseberries but will watch them more carefully for any signs of the disease. I am replacing the currant plantings with black elderberry canes this spring.

The official results:

Cronartium ribicola

 

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Woolly Adelgid

Where is Homeland Security when you need them?

Woolly Adelgid ovisacs on tip of Hemlock branch 21 April 2014 Durham NH

Woolly Adelgid ovisacs on tip of Hemlock branch
21 April 2014 Durham NH

Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid is a small aphid like insect that threatens eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock in the Eastern US. Hemlock decline and eventual mortality usually occur within 4 to 10 years in the northern range and as little as 3 to 6 years in the southern range.

Woolly Adelgid ovisacs on tip of Hemlock branch 21 April 2014 Durham NH

Woolly Adelgid ovisacs on tip of Hemlock branch
21 April 2014 Durham NH

See the USDA Pest Alert for more information on the woolly adelgid life cycle and control methods. First step is to move bird feeders away from hemlocks as birds help to spread woolly adelgids. There are chemical controls but they aren’t permanent and may require annual applications.

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Seafood Estofado

Le Cordon Bleu never fails to inspire. The recent newsletter highlighted a recipe based on Mexican and Hispanic influences and given that I have access to extremely fresh fish and a very accommodating fish monger. I decided to modify their recipe a little, adjust it for two and have it for dinner last evening:

Spicy Seafood Estofado

Spicy Seafood Estofado

Fortunately I had left over lobster stock in the freezer so I avoided making a fish stock, or worse yet, buying some fish stock. I used store-bought paste tomatoes which are difficult to peel but the concasse added texture and is much better for this dish than tomato sauce would be. This ended up being a fairly easy recipe to prepare; colorful, textural, and flavorful. The presentation had height, movement and was visually pleasing. It would have been better if I hadn’t forgotten the parsley.

While eating we discussed the possibility of a New England Bouillabaisse using the Estofado as the base with 2 or 3 times the seafood stock and using scallops, manilla clams, mussels, Acadian Redfish and lobster claws. Those ingredients are readily available, I still have lobster stock in the freezer and it really is tasty so we’ll try it out this week.

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RIP HotTop KN-8828B

After 1102 roasts, over 275 Kilos of green beans and almost 5 years of loyal service my Hot Top KN-8828 had functional lapse which resulted in a serious chamber fire. During the final roast the display panel started to wink in and out and then displayed all 8s but the 410° alert seemed to work fine and towards the end of the second crack the beans began to eject as normal but then abruptly stopped leaving the roasted beans in the chamber. In a short while the beans caught fire and I saw no remedy other than to let the fire burn out, although the roaster looks fine and none of the outer plastic was damaged I take this as a sign to put my old friend down.

My replacement roaster, a KN-8828B-2K, should arrive Monday from HotTopUSA. I had hoped to get at least 1500 roasts out of the former and I have that as a goal for the replacement.

However, I am more than satisfied with the final cost breakdown for the 1102 roasts:

Original Cost:                     $755.45

Replacement Parts             234.08

Consumables (Filters)       660.20

Per roast                            $    1.497

Electricity                                   .065

Roasting Cost                    $    1.562

Cost per Roasted Pound  $    3.425

The last 40 pounds of Sweet Maria’s Sumatran coffee cost $4.873 per green pound delivered. When roasted this becomes $6.08 and with the $3.43 from above our Sumatra Dark Roast coffee costs us $9.51 per pound. Over $3 less then we can find locally roasted coffee.

Although I look forward to the new roaster, I will miss my old friend. I will keep it for parts or perhaps a tinkerer will get it and bring it back into service for a few hundred or more roasts.

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New Calendar

Many new festivals and events listed on the Calendar.

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Savannah

We had only been back from Savannah a few days when the news broke about Paula Deen and her co-owned Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House closing. I didn’t know she was in Savannah as I don’t watch cooking shows but I recognized her name from the negative press she has received over the last year. While orienting ourselves to the fairly small Historic District, we did walk by both her retail store and the restaurant. A month before the trip I made reservations at The Olde Pink House for our first night and Alligator Soul for our second, Uncle Bubba’s never came up in any research that I did nor recommendations from friends. Interestingly, when we asked a couple of people about local restaurants, they both quickly commented that we should avoid Paula Deen’s. The closing may be more related to an inability to compete on cuisine, service or both with the numerous restaurants available in the compact Historic District.

One definite must visit in Savannah for non-acidic, expertly roasted coffee is the Savannah Coffee Roasters. They serve a variety of coffees, coffee drinks and have an excellent supply of pastries, cookies and tarts. If I lived in Savannah I might even quit roasting coffee. I had a discussion with their master roaster and towards the end he asked where I got my beans. I told him many have tried to sell me their green beans but that I remain steadfastly loyal to Sweet Maria’s; he smiled and said they too buy from Sweet Maria’s and have benefited from the information provided on their website and numerous discussions with them about techniques. He couldn’t have been more complementary.

The most impressive thing about Savannah are the numerous parks, squares and green spaces in the Historic District. The largest hill that I encountered was where a tree trunk had pushed up the brick lined sidewalk.

Forsyth Park looking northeast towards Monterey Square

Forsyth Park looking northeast towards Monterey Square

The Crystal Beer Parlor was recommended to us for lunch. The beer list was longer than most of the local restaurants’ wine lists. The service was good and attentive. The home-made onion rings weren’t saturated with batter, the crab chowder was thick and full of crab and the salad was fresh and crisp.

The Olde Pink House, located in Savannah’s only 18th century mansion, offers an excellent example of southern hospitality and cuisine. A reservation is appropriate as they are extremely popular and highly regarded. Also, be advised the portions are large. I forgot that southern cuisine can be heavy and sweet, this isn’t intended as a negative comment but simply an advisory for those used to lighter fare. I started with the fried crab cake which came between two fried green tomato slices accompanied by a small arugula salad. It was excellent but very filling. Unfortunately, I also ordered the pork shank with collards and sage brown butter. The shank had been roasting for hours, the sauce was expertly prepared and the collards – well what can you say. I struggled to get through half of it before surrendering. I can easily recommend either of these but not as a pair. I will definitely return to The Olde Pink House but will pay a little more attention to pairing the appetizer with the main unless I gain some common sense and order one or the other, not both.

Our dinner at Alligator Soul was not a good experience. One of those who warned us against Uncle Bubba’s also suggest that Alligator Soul was over priced and that we could do much better and suggested Noble Fare. I need to listen better. Alligator Soul has an energetic vibe (a.k.a. noisy) and our waiter for the evening had just developed laryngitis so I couldn’t hear the specials. I ordered the charcuterie plate which we would share not realizing the waiter had described it as a special and had I understood what it was I would have avoided it. Things went from bad to worse as tap water showed up instead of the bottled that we ordered, then after some time the bottle of wine arrived. I have eaten full meals in the amount of time it took for the appetizer to appear. It had half of a marrow bone, a small pot of rabbit paté, a few pieces of cured pork and a lot of lavash. It was fine but definitely underwhelming. Then the wait began. Granted it was Friday night and the tables were full but they had more than enough wait staff, hostess and bar tenders you have to wonder where the kitchen staff was. The spacing between courses was embarrassingly long, well past humorous. Our entrees were okay, the scallops were well prepared but they cooked the bone-in pork loin more than I care for so it was dry and on the tough side. We skipped the desserts, attempted to order an after-dinner drink but they didn’t have a cordial list and by then I tired of trying to hear the waiter and asked for the bill. It was definitely over priced, even if the service had been well-managed.

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10-Vins

The 10-Vins concept, delivering a single glass of wine without opening a whole bottle.

The 10-Vins concept, delivering a single glass of wine without opening a whole bottle.

Since December 2012 10-Vins  has crafted a business focused on delivering a selection of fine wines by the glass. With home (France) wine delivery, they offer a new way to enjoy a single glass of wine without opening a large bottle.

Have you ordered a glass of wine and felt that it was a little flat and lacking in overall appeal? You probably wondered how long the bottle had been sitting there, at best, with the cork shoved back in. The more upscale wine bars and restaurants have deployed nitrogen preservation systems to maintain the quality of wine in an opened bottle. There are inexpensive vacuum pumps available for home use which work well and are available in most local kitchen and wine stores.

It will be interesting to see if anyone picks up on the 10-Vins concept in this Country, how the costs compare to nitrogen based systems and if wines by the glass become more popular.

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Valicenti Organico

I prefer to make my own ingredients and components for our meals. I don’t think mine are the best, I just find it relaxing. Perhaps it is a nod to home economics but more likely it is about satisfying a curiosity and having the time.

However, every once in a while, someone comes along whose products are so far superior to yours that you cede room in the freezer. Valicenti Organico from Hollis, New Hampshire is one of those producers. Their pasta is good, I have not tried their sauces but I have driven 30 miles to a Farmers’ Market just to buy their ravioli. We’ve eaten nearly a dozen different ravioli varieties and can’t declare a favorite let along say there was one we didn’t devour. I bought a half-dozen this morning at the Rollinsford Farmers’ Market. I am hoping they get the Durham Marketplace to carry their products, I could use the extra freezer space.

A package amply serves 2 or makes a large appetizer for 4. Cooking the ravioli is easy. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and return to a boil then add the ravioli straight out of the freezer. Once the ravioli begin floating to the surface you are almost done ( 2 to 3 minutes), continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes. Cover with your sauce of choice, I am partial to extra virgin olive oil and garlic.

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Preserved Meyer Lemons

We tucked 10 Meyer Lemons into our suitcase before returning from California last month. The lone tree was full of these yellow sweet little gems:

Joel's Meyer Lemons

Joel’s Meyer Lemons

I had just purchased Clothilde Dusoulier’s The French Market Cookbook last fall for the trip to my nephew’s wedding in California and as soon as I read her recipe for Preserved Lemons – Citrons confits I knew exactly what I wanted on my return to California this February.

The first step in preparing any recipe is the mise en place, assembling and measuring all of the ingredients required for the recipe; this way you don’t find out an ingredient is missing half way through preparing the recipe or omit an ingredient all together. I began by sterilizing the 3 pint jars and lids that I would be using in a 250° F oven for 30 minutes.

Sterilized Jars & Lids Straight From the Oven

Sterilized Jars & Lids Straight From the Oven

While sterilizing the jars and lids, I washed the lemons and assembled all remaining ingredients:

Mise en place

Mise en place

Had I actually lived in California then I would use freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice but being winter in New Hampshire I opted for the bottled variety.

Next I simply quartered three lemons and covered them with sea salt in a bowl. Once thoroughly covered with salt, I began to layer them into the prepared jars covering with additional salt and coriander seeds adding additional lemon quarters as needed. Once the jar was full, I added lemon juice to cover:

Freshly Preserved Meyer Lemons

Freshly Preserved Meyer Lemons

I stored the jars in a cool, dark location, shaking them every 2 to 3 days to help develop an even cure.

Ready to Use

Ready to Use

Finally I was ready to prepare my own Preserved Lemon & Chicken Pasta for dinner.

My conclusion: tasty. Individually the small preserved lemon slices are tart little salt bombs but when folded into the finished pasta the salt fades into the background and the slices become hidden tiny treats.

The Preserved Lemons recipe is kids’ play, as easy and straightforward as any I have ever followed. It is more than suitable for children, although you might want to sterilize the jars and lids for them and perhaps quarter the lemons. Because of the acid level in the recipe there are no additional canning steps required making this is a great introduction recipe to preserving.

If you prefer you can sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water as recommended by the USDA or run the jars through your dish washer and cover the lids with water from an instant hot water tap. Just make sure they are clean of debris and sterile before using.

3 pints won’t last until my next trip to California so I look forward to using ‘local’ store bought lemons when this batch runs out. I will look for clean, blemish free organic lemons.

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Elder Nutrition

Frequently I fall into the rut preparing the same old meals week after week. It gets monotonous but it is difficult to fuss over a feast for two. I miss the Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) and the cooking challenge each week’s trash fish offers, I eagerly look forward to its restart in June. I also miss the opportunity to gather the family, as if I need a reason. From time to time I am left to fend for myself and I understand the inertia that drives some to eat cereal two or three times a day.

Cooking for the family is a labor of love, when you know how cooking for 1 is an onerous task and when you don’t a senseless task. Rural living where the closest salad bar could be 30 miles away makes it easy to slip into culinary monotony. As you age joints get stiffer while bones become more brittle, you resist driving when it is dark, or raining, or snowing or streets are filled with obstacles; it becomes a self-imposed house arrest.

Folks in Durham are lucky, we have excellent fish mongers and butchers at the Durham Marketplace who willing cut to order and they also have a nice selection of fresh soups, sushi, salad bar, bakery products and full service deli. Unfortunately they don’t currently deliver and with UNH in session it is tricky to safely navigate streets full of skateboarders, bicyclists, joggers and a commercial area that is one continuous cross walk.

In a recent post, the French government said:

“In its National program for Food, the French government asserted its objective to ensure a safe, diverse and quantity-sufficient diet for the whole population. One fifth of the French population is over 60 and senior citizens are a fragile demographic group that requires special attention.
Elderly people are more likely to suffer from malnutrition than the rest of the population. They can lose their autonomy for everyday tasks such as shopping and cooking. They also tend to lose their taste for eating once they are isolated both literally and figuratively due to a loss of palate sensitivity as well as supportive social contact.”

I asked a friend if he knew of any State or Federal programs that dealt specifically with elder nutrition and he directed me to Joanne Burke Director, UNH Dietetic Internship, Thomas Haas Professor in Sustainable Food Systems who offers the following:

“Seniors are indeed vulnerable in our state, given we are the 6th oldest state, and many are needing to pay for fuel, prescription and property taxes, with little left over for healthy foods…
In NH a number of CAP agencies help to fill in the gaps for food assistance support, and of course seniors are eligible for the Federal SNAP (formerly known as food Stamps Program).
Strafford CAP
http://www.straffordcap.org/programs/food-a-nutrition  (list of food pantries )
The CAP agency in Hillsborough county has a nice way of presenting the different links to many of federal programs that exist in most parts of the state, with many of the CAP agencies serving  to support the integration of these national programs  into the community
http://www.snhs.org/programs/health-food-nutrition/commodity-supplemental-food-program/
There are a number of churches that sponsor food pantries, but in terms of a comprehensive approach, SNAP, Commodity Food Assistance  and Meals on Wheels seem to be the programs one finds most readily accessible .
http://rockinghammealsonwheels.org/about-us/locations/
The Meals on Wheels program often have  a mix of on-site and home delivered meal Programs
 “Each site offers a center for gathering, parties, socializing and lunch.  The Meals on Wheels are package at these locations and delivered throughout the County.  Please use the listing below to find your nearest center.”
Derry Area
39 West Broadway – Derry, NH 03038 in the Marion Gerrish Center
(603) 434-5148
Site Manager: Sharon Foster
Senior Luncheon served Monday – Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Auburn, Chester, Derry, & Londonderry
Transportation provide to center and other locations
Exeter Area
30 Court Street – Exeter, NH 03833 at the Exeter Senior Center
(603) 778-8196
Site Manager: Rob Pane
Senior Luncheons served Monday – Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Exeter & Stratham
Senior Shuttle available to the center and other locations
Hampton Area
525 Lafayette Road – Hampton, NH 03842 at the United Methodist Church
(603) 929-1108
Site Manager: Nancy Singleton
Senior Luncheons served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Hampton & North Hampton
Londonderry Area
Mammoth Road – Londonderry, NH 03053 at the Londonderry Senior Center
(603) 432-8554
Congregate Coordinator: Jeanne Bouvier
Senior Luncheon service only (Tuesday – Thursday)
Newmarket Area
2 Terrace Drive – Newmarket, NH 03857 at the Newmarket Community Center
(603) 659-3150
Site Manager: Kim Tilton
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Newfields & Newmarket
Plaistow Area
18 Greenough Road – Plaistow, NH 03865 at the Vic Geary Center
(603) 382-5995
Site Manager: Emily Low
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area -  Atkinson, Danville, East Kingston, Hampstead, Kingston, Newton, Plaistow, & Sandown
Senior Shuttle available to center and limited other locations
Portsmouth Area
40 Bedford Way – Portsmouth, NH 03801 at Atlantic Heights
(603) 431-0561
Site Manager: Caren Gallagher
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area -  Greenland, New Castle, Newington, Portsmouth, & Rye
Transportation services available to the center
Raymond Area (2 locations)
64 Main Street – Raymond, NH 03077 at the Ray-Fre Senior Center
(603) 895-3258
Congregate Coordinator: Carol Reed
Senior Luncheon Only (Tuesday & Thursday)
1 Church Street – Raymond, NH 03077 at the Congregational Church
(603) 895-0479
Site Manager: Amy Montebianchi
Senior Luncheon served Monday – Friday
Meals On Wheels service area- Brentwood, Candia, Deerfield, Epping, Fremont, Northwood, Nottingham, & Raymond
Senior Shuttles services available to centers and other locations.
Salem Area
1 Sally Sweet Way – Salem, NH 03079 at the Ingram Senior Center
(603) 893-2137
Site Manager: April Coggon
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area -  Salem & Windham
Seabrook Area
311 Lafayette Road – Seabrook, NH 03874 at the Seabrook Community Center
(603) 474-2139
Site Manager: Elizabeth Ash
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area -  Hampton Falls, Kensington, South Hampton, & Seabrook
Windham Area
5 North Lowell Street – Windham, NH 03087 at the Windham Senior Center
(603) 434-2411
Volunteer Site Coordinator: Barbara Coish
Senior Luncheon Only (Tuesday & Thursday)
http://rockinghammealsonwheels.org/about-us/locations/
The state “211” phone number is designed to help people find all types of assistance which is a help …
Finally, a Summary of some of the major places where food is available and Mapped in NH was conducted by the Carsey Institute 2 years ago, but this report is not designed to map  senior’s meal  programs
http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/IB-Wauchope-CAofNH-NH-Food-Insecurity.pdf

If you have elderly neighbors, know of someone living alone then invite them over for a nice home cooked meal or a ride to the Durham Marketplace or one of the many local Farmers’ Market might inspire them. Anything beats cereal for supper. If you find yourself wondering what is for dinner, check out the resources listed above.

I received a follow-up email from Joanne Burke after my initial post, she commented:

I believe (but you can verify this) that  at the on-site  senior center meals such as those sponsored by Meals on Wheels  seniors who are in a position  to donate more $$ can elect to do so and they have the benefit of not eating alone….
With the farmers market senior nutrition program, those in need get  nominal support but on the whole farmers markets are a fun way for seniors to get out and see one another and purchase in the very size they want or need given very little is prepackaged.
One avenue that is often overlooked is the benefit of seniors coming together and sharing a meal via the pot luck style during which  each contributes something, but they enjoy the food together
Grocery shopping with a peer and/or intergenerational grocery shopping can also add a nice twist and offers the advantage of sometimes being able to take advantage of specials that one would otherwise assume as not workable.   Dividing up  a sale 5 bag of potatoes in half, or dividing a bulk rice purchase etc. can help to stretch precious food dollars. Likewise perishable melons and bagged fruit are often cheaper when bought whole.
We do think that generally people eat better together than dining alone.

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