Spring Beekeeping Workshop

Spring Beekeeping Workshop
Demonstration Hive

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aubergine Anyone?

For those of you on the west side of the big puddle (Atlantic Ocean) I'm talking about eggplant here.

It's the end of October but we've just finished harvesting our aubergine. I like the sound of the French word for this vegetable much more than "eggplant". We brought in about 10 lbs of two varieties - the traditional large "egg" shaped fruit, and the skinny, elongated variety. Frost was threatening and we didn't want to lose all this produce.

Faced with processing this versatile vegetable, we came up with three tasty recipes which worked well for us.

My version of Deborah Judah's Baba Ganouj

1 lb of aubergine, roasted or grilled
1 whole garlic, peeled
juice from half a large lemon
1/4 cup Tahini paste
1 tablespoon dried basil
salt and black pepper

Coarsely chop the roasted aubergine in a food processor using the metal blade. Add the garlic and process briefly to chop the garlic into the aubergine. Change to the plastic processor blade. Add the remaining ingredients and process to mix well. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or may be used as a dip or sandwich spread.

This is Stuart's own version of Eggplant Parmesan:

1 pound of aubergine, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch slices (round or lengthwise)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of wheat germ
Canola or olive oil
1 1/2 cups of crushed tomato
1 tablespoon of dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped, basil
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Sprinkle the aubergine slices with salt and set aside.
Pour the egg into a flat dish.
Saute the mushrooms in a tablespoon of the oil until softened and browned. Set aside.
When the aubergine has started to sweat (beads of moisture will appear on the outside of the slices), pat it dry with paper towels or clean cotton towels. Dip both sides of the slices into the egg, and then dredge with the wheat germ. Set on a clean plate until all the slices are ready.

Pour oil into a large frying pan to cover the bottom with about 1/4 inch of oil. Heat the oil until very hot and then turn down the burner. Place the aubergine slices into the hot oil and fry gently on both sides, until brown. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels or cloths to drain.

Layer aubergine slices on the bottom of a one-and-a half inch deep ovenproof dish and sprinkle with garlic, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes and basil. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used. Finish with a thin layer of tomatoes and top off with the two cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Serves 4.

Aubergine Fritters

Slice aubergines lengthwise into pieces about 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Sweat and then dredge in beaten egg and wheat germ as in the previous recipe. Fry the pieces in deep oil until cooked through. Drain. Serve as a first course topped with tomato sauce. Allowed to cool, the pieces will make excellent dippers for any savory party dip. The cooled fritters may be frozen and reheated in an oven at a later date.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The following news item just came in from the UN today and I think it's worth sharing. Some people still think climate change is a hoax. NOT! The item, while cause for concern on the one hand, is a hopeful story that we can all take a lesson from:

"When the mangroves started to die, Magongo Lawrence Manje knew something was wrong.

For generations, his 12,000-person community in the coastal Kilifi district in Kenya depended upon Mtwapa Creek’s marine ecosystem for its livelihood, but climate change has increased droughts in their region and altered life as they know it.

With less rain, mangroves died, leaving coastlines bare, and without the mangroves to prevent erosion and maintain salinity, fish and other marine life couldn’t breed. And as the plants, trees, and fish disappeared, farmers and fishermen had nothing to sell at market.

Magongo, who is the outreach coordinator for the Kwetu Training Center, describes how this chain reaction has affected people’s everyday lives:

“People employed in livestock and crop-growing … lose their jobs and bread basket. Fishermen are no longer getting enough catch to sustain their families, which results [in] poor nutrition. At the same time, students cannot go to school due to lack of fees and hunger.”

All this, because the mangroves disappeared. Because of climate change.

Amid these sobering facts, however, Magongo’s community has hope. Funded in part by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Kwetu Training Center is teaching the community environmental conservation techniques and helping them reclaim their livelihoods through sustainable methods. Their solutions include:

* Establishing replacement mangrove nurseries and protecting the few remaining mangrove forests.

* Introducing fish and prawn farming to generate income. Community youth play a major role by constructing fish and prawn ponds to increase productivity.

* Implementing beekeeping, organic farming, solar drying and other eco-friendly activities that bring in revenue and improve the community’s standard of living.

Magongo and his team at Kwetu are a terrific example of people taking individual action to adapt to climate change. But as Magongo said to us, everyone must educate their communities on climate change and its direct effects. Otherwise, the forests and marine life they depend on will become a thing of the past.

Do you have a story like Magongo’s? What are YOU losing because of climate change? Share your story and help spread the word – just like Magongo is doing in his community.

Thanks for joining our cause,

The UN Foundation Climate and Energy Team
(Reid, Ryan, Jana, Kurt, and John)
The link appears to be going to the domain www.UNFoundation.org, but is really going to the domain globalproblems-globalsolutions.org.

As soil conservationists and soil scientists have known for at least a century, soil and the plants it sustains, are THE KEY to our long term health as humans. This story reminds me of the devastation that hit New Orleans with the Hurricane, Katrina. One of the problems in that situation was the prior destruction of coastal swamps and wetlands (mangrove swamps for example). There was no protection for the coast because these natural transition zones, teeming with life had been filled, dyked, paved over, you name it. All in the name of progress and development. That means "MAKING MONEY" for some people. Don't get me wrong, I like to make money too, but not at the expense of our planetary health.

In areas of the world where past human action or localized change in weather have caused desertification, or just simply erosion, societies have disappeared or become impoverished. Case in point, the Middle East, the Sahara, the American Dust Bowl states - and I know there are more examples but since I'm not an historian I will have to research this. When soil is lost, agriculture and natural vegetation is destroyed, people starve, wars start, migrations upset normal demographics - need I say more?

I heard today on National Public Radio about how some cities in the US, San Francisco for example, are doing a fabulous job of having their citizens separate food waste from the rest of their garbage. The city collects it, composts it, and sells it back to farms and others who need it to replenish soil. The city saves money on this deal and the earth is getting a helping hand.

Next time you throw out food waste in your trash, think about starting a compost pile. Details on how to do that coming soon on this blog space!

And if you think climate change is too big and you can't help - think again. On Saturday, 24 October 2009, is an International Day of Climate Action called "350". Take a stand for a Fair Copenhagen Climate Treaty that meets the science by attending an Energy Fair near you - wherever you live in the world. Go to 350.org to see what's happening in your neighborhood. Stop by a fair and learn all sorts of ideas you can put into action immediately to help the planet.