Thursday, 24 April 2008

The issue of Food Security

Over on the other blog, Central Ganglion, Bernie has posted an interesting story on shortages in the US. Scary, really scary. Even today when I went to buy my muffin there was a note posted in UVic's Finnerty Express Cafe that due to the increase in the price of flour there was an increase in the price of muffins. This is bad news on the grain front, but the positive side of it is, I'm not going to indulge as often and that probably will be good for staying away from the "white stuff".

For years I've been amazed at how little we grow on the island. We have a great climate and yet we import a hell of a lot of our food. One of the reasons I selected my current abode was because there was a huge garden and a least 4 apple trees. I was greatly disappointed when the garden disappeared to plant more lawn and the apple tree was removed never to be replaced. I am going to be moving into an apartment block soon, with lots of light and I hope to grow herbs.

This summer I will be planting a vegetable garden in a plot I've obtained for free. I gave my UVic plot back and requested that it go to a student in residence on the waiting list. There is a community garden in Oak Bay on Montrieff. I live near there and I've noticed some plots are never planted. There is a 5 year waiting list to obtain a plot. I'm not sure if Oak Bay Municipality monitors the lot, but they should. If the plot isn't planted in one summer, then it should be passed to someone on the waiting list. UVic's Community Garden has a policy whereby you have to plant by the end of May. If you don't you lose your plot. I think that's fair.

The city needs more community gardens and roof tops to be converted for condo and apartment dwellers.

Another project is City Harvest.
SPIN farming -- see website for information

Still , we need to do more and we need to do it NOW!! Or are we too late already??

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The best brownies

These were made and devoured at John's sister and brother inlaw's during the movie & pizza night we offered as part of their Christmas gift. The are the BEST brownies I've ever had...

Fantastic Fudge Brownies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I don't put them in)
1 teaspoon vanillaIcing
2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 talespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream sugar, cocoa and butter, Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Add flour andfold in walnuts. Bake in greased 9" x 13" pan at 350 for 40 -45 minutes.Top will appear underdone (falls in middle) but DON'T overcook!! Should bemoist and chewy. Add icing IMMEDIATELY after removing from oven so it willmelt into a shiny glaze.Icing - mix ingredients together with electric beater while brownies are cooking.

Monday, 14 April 2008

chewy sweet-mores

Found this great recipe in the latest issue of Momentum, a magazine for bicyclists and self-propelled people. It's for sweet-mores, a homemade chewy thing something like an Eat-more bar, and the recipe comes from a book called Health by Chocolate. That title, incidentally, has my vote for second-best title of the year. The hands-down best title goes to my friend Bev's novel Feral.
I've modified the recipe here a bit from the original. These no-bake, granola bar substitutes are supposed to be adaptable to suit different tastes.
1 6-cup saucepan (better try a cheap thrift store pan the first time, not your best)

1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter or other similar product such as No-Nuts golden pea butter. )
1 cup honey (I used liquid honey; I don't think hard or creamed honey would work so easily)
cocoa powder to taste (recipe calls for 1 cup; the second time, I used only 3 tablespoons)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
sesame seeds or sunflower seeds to taste (1/2 cup to 1 cup)

Put peanut butter and honey in saucepan, and heat gently until bubbling, said the recipe. Hah! I heated gently and stirred the heck out of the thick goo with a chopstick to try to keep the bottom from burning before the top got warm.
Remove from heat, and stir in cocoa powder. Stir in about 1/2 cup coconut and 1/2 cup sesame seeds. Keep adding coconut and seeds till you get a texture you like. The mixture should be too thick to stir, and look something like an Eat-More bar: lots of stuff mixed into dark brown goo.
The mixture will remain warm for a few minutes while you're mixing. Don't let it get cold in the saucepan.
The recipe says to press the mixture into a pan, and when it's cooling, slice it into bars. I guessed rightly that the mixture would set like rock when it got cold. Instead, I recommend shaping the mixture into manageable pieces while it's warm. Butter your hands, and put two Tupperware-style sandwich containers on the table. Scoop out teaspoonfuls of the mixture, pinch them into round, flat cookie shapes and put them into the plastic sandwich containers. You can roll each shape in coconut as you make it.
These cookie shapes will get dense, almost hard and chewy as they cool down. They will also soften and leak peanut oil on a warm day, so don't just wrap a couple in a bit of plastic wrap and stick 'em in a pocket. I'd recommend a Tupperware (they tend to seal well) or a Zip-lock snack bag -- maybe double bag if leaks would be a problem.