Archive for July 11th, 2007
Americans throw out 25 percent of the produce they buy because it’s gone bad. How to stop the waste? Know when to shop, learn which fruits and veggies don’t get along and which ones to keep out of the fridge. — By Shelley Levitt (originally printed in Wild Oats Magazine).
Perhaps you do it once a week. Perhaps only when you trace those sulfurous odors to your refrigerator’s crisper drawers. But eventually, you toss out spoiled vegetables and fruits. Lots of them. Researchers at the University of Arizona recently spent a year tracking families’ food-use habits. Working with the United States Department of Agriculture, they interviewed the families about their eating habits, collected their grocery receipts, watched them prepare meals, and then sifted through every last discarded lettuce leaf, slice of bread, burger and bean.
The results, reported in 2002, were pretty shocking. The families tossed out an average of 470 pounds of food per year—about 14 percent of all food brought into the home—at an annual cost of $600. Every day, they discarded more than half a pound of fruits and veggies. In total, Americans chuck a quarter of all the produce they buy, mostly because it’s gone bad, says Timothy Jones, PhD, contemporary archaeologist at the University of Arizona. Nationally, we dump $43 billion worth of food every year.
Wasting produce is, well, a waste—bad for our wallets and bad for the environment. Plus, who wants to make a salad when confronted with a bin of rotting sludge? All this led us to ask: How can we keep produce fresh longer?
The ABCs of Fresh
“The main way to lengthen shelf life is by using cold temperatures to slow food’s respiration, or ‘breathing’ process,” explains Marita Cantwell, PhD, a postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis. In general, the warmer the temperature, the faster the rate of respiration, which is why refrigeration is critical for most produce. But while you want to slow it down, you don’t want to stop the breathing altogether. “The worst thing to do is seal produce in an airtight bag,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University. “You’ll suffocate it and speed up decay.” Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables. Put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days. So the first trick is to separate produce that emits ethylene from produce that’s sensitive to it. (See “Gas Wars,” below).
For the second time in two weeks, Senate Republicans have blocked the lobbying and ethics reform legislation. First it was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who obstructed final consideration of the legislation; now it is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
Both senators claim that they are not opposed to ethics, or even the new reform legislation, for that matter. They just want assurances that favored legislative proposals will be addressed. For DeMint, he wants the Senate to guarantee passage of earmarking reform, before he will allow the lobbying and ethics bill – which contains DeMint’s exact earmarking reform language – proceed to conference committee to iron out the differences with the House bill.
Don’t buy these excuses for a second.
Last year, when the Republicans controlled Congress and had a golden opportunity to clean up its act and pass lobbying and ethics reform legislation, the Republicans chose instead to let the legislation quietly die in conference. How convenient: they went on record voting for reform, but did not actually have to stomach any reform.
This year, the reform legislation rolled through both the Senate and the House, but must again be reconciled in conference before final passage. If DeMint and McConnell succeed at blocking conference proceedings, they will have succeeded at killing the legislation – all the while avoiding a public vote against reform.
Enough already! Americans are demanding lobbying and ethics reform. DeMint – end your filibuster against ethics.
This is the recipe:
The original tiramisu was served as a free-standing cake, according to Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone, making a more elegant presentation. This dessert has several steps, so here’s one way to work efficiently: Make the zabaglione and pastry cream in the morning, assemble the tiramisu in the afternoon and chill it overnight; that will allow the flavors to develop and makes the tiramisu easier to serve. 6 servings
For the zabaglione
* 2 large egg yolks
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1/4 cup Marsala wine
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
For the pastry cream
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 large egg yolk
* 3/4 cup whole milk
For the whipped cream
* 1 cup chilled heavy cream
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the assembly
* 2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
* 1 teaspoon rum extract
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
* 36 store-bought ladyfingers
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
For zabaglione: Have ready a double boiler. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler; fill the bottom pot with hot water and place the top pot on top. Over low heat, cook the egg mixture, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles a thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the pastry cream: Combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth. Place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Add the remaining milk a bit at a time, stirring. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry; push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.) Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the whipped cream: Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with a large whisk, hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.
For the assembly: Have ready a large rectangular serving platter.
Combine the espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon; this will make it easier to mix. Add the reserved zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set the cream mixture aside.
Working quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges. Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer. Cut into individual portions.
And here’s the story:
With the Bush Administration claiming Executive Privilege over everything, with no attempt whatsoever to justify the claim beyond simply asserting it, and with the constant claim of “I don’t recall” whenever one of the Administration minions is testifying before Congress, and the continuation of the hopeless war, with more deaths daily, and the inability of the Democrats to push legislation against the obstructionism of the GOP (which is requiring any action on Iraq to have 60 votes), and the continuing incompetence of our national media (who simply reprints the Administration spin as facts and news), and the continuing love both parties have for self-enriching earmarks, it’s hard to blog politics. One feels so tired of this mess, and it’s hard to see how we shall break free of the corroded and corrupt political process. I find Cullen Murphy’s book Are We Rome? more and more pertinent.
I used the Shavemaster shaving brush (from Enchante Online, the home of Method Shaving) this morning, which quickly produced an excellent lather from Geo. F. Trumper Coconut shaving soap. Well-lathered, I drew the Apollo Mikron down my cheek, and decided to up the setting a notch—from 3 to 4. After a couple of nicks on the chin and one on my upper lip, I moved it from 4 back to 3. Live and learn.
Followed the shave with the alum block—whose purpose is a pleasant feeling, a mild antiseptic, and sealing up weepers, but not to stop the bleeding from a nick or cut. Then Royall Lyme aftershave, and finally a quick application of My Nik Is Sealed, whose purpose is exactly to stop bleeding from a nick or cut.
Smooth shave, and now I know the right setting of the Apollo Mikron—at least for me.