Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Days Dissipate

Like the tiny bubbles in a mimosa drink, summer disperses into ether persistently yet slyly.

After missing most of berry season, I managed to get my wits about me and make the most of peach season. I now have a small fortune of frozen breakfast bars made with peaches. What started as just another breakfast bar crafted around a seasonable fruit – as I’ve been trying to do year-round –turned into an instantaneous new favorite, with a spontaneous new name: The India Peach Breakfast Bar. Let me introduce you:

India Peach Breakfast Bar
(Based upon Farmgirl’s Blueberry Breakfast Bar)

2 cups old-fashioned oats
¾ cup organic white whole wheat flour
¾ cup organic evaporated cane sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) organic butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup organic white whole wheat flour
½ cup organic evaporated cane sugar
3 Tbsp organic butter
several handfuls of shredded coconut

3 medium-sized organic peaches
¾ cup organic evaporated cane sugar
3 Tbsp organic white whole wheat flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 heaping tsp organic dried ginger
½ tsp organic ground nutmeg

Grease a 9” x 13” pan. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry bottom layer ingredients. Meanwhile, melt the butter. While you are waiting for the butter to melt, add the top layer flour and sugar together and then blend in the butter, preferably with a pastry blender. Once your butter is melted, remove it from the heat and add the vanilla before mixing it in with the bottom layer ingredients. Spread this mixture evenly into the bottom of your pan, and set the bowl aside for combining the middle layer ingredients. Next pre-heat your oven to 425° F. Skin and slice your peaches into wedges about ½ inch thick, at their widest. In the large bowl, combine peaches with sugar, flour, vanilla, ginger and nutmeg. Toss to mix well. Evenly spread peaches onto bottom layer and pour remaining juices evenly in spaces not filled with fruit slices. Dust top layer evenly on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F and continue baking for 10 minutes. Sprinkle several handfuls of shredded coconut evenly across the top. Continue cooking for about another 10 minutes, or until edges and top begin to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes. Slice into bars. Transfer any bars not to be eaten immediately to a cooling rack or a cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. Place in air-tight freezer bags and transfer to the freezer as soon as possible.

These shorter days of summer seem to be slipping away twice as quickly as the days around the summer solstice. I walked around the corner to our barn just a few days ago to hear a very familiar and pleasant sound – the sound of new arrivals. I was convinced my duck had been sitting on her nest for two weeks, but a little bird told me it had, indeed, been four.

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At August 24, 2007 5:56 PM, Blogger O Mama Mia said...

Oh wow, Jade! The flowering tree photo is a fabulous started, then I jsut cannot wipe the drool off my monitor fast enough with your breakfast bar recipe & photo...mmmmmm..... summer!!! And Starlet is ADORING your new arrivals.

At August 31, 2007 4:48 PM, Blogger Jade said...

Why thank you, o mama mia! It sounds like you are familiar with the "Mimosa" tree (or more botanically accurate -- the Silk Tree). We've had the poor thing in a pot for years and now finally have space to give it some room to grow!!! I'm so glad Starlet is enjoying the little ones . . . I have some catching up to do, so there should be more to come. :) It's been a crazy week.

At September 05, 2007 5:48 AM, Blogger ericswan said...

FDA Officials Kept Blank Calendars

If you have been wanting to know who two top officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been meeting with in recent years, you would be out of luck.

Despite the fact that their jobs involve regular sit-downs with drug company executives, lobbyists and others, the public calendars of Dr. Janet Woodcock and Dr. Steven Galson have been almost completely blank, according to The Associated Press.

Woodcock’s calendar had only three listings between January 1999 and December 2006. That’s strange, because during that time, she was the director of the center for drug evaluation and research and then deputy commissioner for operations. Both positions required her meetings to be listed.

Galson, who took over the drug chief position from Woodcock full-time in July 2005, had no listings.

The FDA says it simply was an administrative oversight (and began to fill in the calendar, after being contacted by congressional staff).

But Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee, said this is an example of the FDA’s lack of accountability

At September 05, 2007 8:20 PM, Blogger ericswan said...

Bio - Fuel Refineries online 2008

The era of cheap food is over. The price of maize has doubled in a year, and wheat futures are at their highest in a decade. The food price index in India has risen 11 per cent in one year, and in Mexico in January there were riots after the price of corn flour - used in making the staple food of the poor, tortillas - went up fourfold.

Even in the developed countries food prices are going up, and they are not going to come down again. Cheap food lasted for only 50 years.

Before World War II, most families in developed countries spent a third or more of their income on food, as the poor majority in developing countries still do. But after the war, a series of radical changes, from mechanisation to the green revolution, raised agricultural productivity hugely and caused a long, steep fall in the real price of food.

For the global middle class, it was the good old days, with food taking only a tenth of their income.

It will probably be back up to a quarter within a decade. And it may go much higher than that because we are entering a period when three separate factors are converging to drive food prices up.

The first is simply demand. Not only is the global population continuing to grow - about an extra Turkey or Vietnam every year - but as Asian economies race ahead, more people in those populous countries are starting to eat more meat.

Early this month, in its annual assessment of farming trends, the United Nations predicted that by 2016, less than 10 years from now, people in the developing countries will be eating 30 per cent more beef, 50 per cent more pig meat and 25 per cent more poultry.

The animals will need a great deal of grain, and meeting that demand will require shifting huge amounts of grain-growing land from human to animal consumption - so the price of grain and of meat will both go up.

The global poor don't care about the price of meat because they can't afford it even now. But if the price of grain goes up, some of them will starve. And maybe they won't have to wait until 2016, because the mania for bio-fuels is shifting huge amounts of land out of food production.

A sixth of all the grain grown in the United States this year will be "industrial corn" destined to be converted into ethanol and burned in cars, and Europe, Brazil and China are all heading in the same direction.

The attraction of biofuels for politicians is obvious: they can claim that they are doing something useful to combat emissions and global warming - although the claims are deeply suspect - without demanding any sacrifices from business or the voters.

The amount of United States farmland devoted to biofuels grew by 48 per cent in the past year alone, and hardly any new land was brought under the plough to replace the lost food production.

In other big biofuel countries, such as China and Brazil, it's the same straight switch from food to fuel. In fact, the food market and the energy market are becoming closely linked, which is bad news for the poor.

As oil prices rise - and the rapid economic growth in Asia guarantees that they will - they pull up the price of biofuels as well, and it gets even more attractive for farmers to switch from food to fuel.

Nor will politics save the day. As economist Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says: "The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world's two billion poorest people." Guess who wins.

Soaring Asian demand and biofuels mean expensive food now and in the near future, but then it gets worse.

Global warming hits crop yields, but only recently has anybody quantified how hard. The answer, published in Environmental Research Letters in March by Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution in Stanford, California, and David Lobell of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is quite simple: for every 0.5C hotter, crop yields fall between 3 and 5 per cent.

So 2C hotter, which is the lower end of the range of predicted temperature rise this century, means a 12 to 20 per cent fall in global food production.

This is science, so that answer could be wrong - but it could be wrong by being too conservative. Last year in New Delhi, I interviewed the director of a think tank who had just completed a contract to estimate the impact on Indian food production of a rise of just 2C in global temperature.

The answer, at least for India, was 25 per cent. That would mean mass starvation, for if India were in that situation then every other major food-producing country would be too, and there would be no imports available at any price.

In the early stages of this process, higher food prices will help millions of farmers who have been scraping along on very poor returns for their effort because political power lies in the cities.

But later it gets uglier. The price of food relative to average income is heading for levels that have not been seen since the early 19th century, and it will not come down again in our lifetimes

Gwynne Dyer

At September 07, 2007 6:28 AM, Blogger ericswan said...

Italians set to boycott pasta as the price of wheat reaches record highs
A PASTA price backlash is looming in Italy, the cost of a Hovis loaf has hit £1 in some shops in Britain and desperate Spanish farmers are selling off suckling pigs they can no longer afford to feed.

There was no respite in sight yesterday for food consumers or producers as the price of wheat soared further, to record highs.

Reports of damage to Australia's crop, set against rising global demand for basic foodstuffs, saw wheat buyers rush to lock in supplies. Resulting heavy demand drove up prices in the United States and Europe.

European wheat futures hit a record 300 a tonne yesterday, after a year in which prices have doubled.

In Britain, Premier Foods, which makes Hovis, Mothers Pride and Homepride bread, has raised prices by about 5p a loaf.

In Japan, the price of instant noodles, a staple, has risen for the first time in 17 years.

Zimbabwe's Lobels Bread, the country's major bread producer, has cut daily production to 40,000 loaves from 200,000 in May. Deteriorating "flour availability" means it can no longer afford wheat from neighbouring Mozambique, the firm said.

In Spain, suckling pigs are being sold at half price by desperate farmers after the price of feed wheat doubled.

Robert Schofield, chief executive at Premier Foods, said prices had seen "an unprecedented increase" and warned of further rises. Some analysts warn bread could become a luxury item.

The price of staple foods has risen in Italy by 30 per cent recently. A 1lb pack of pasta costs about 50p compared to up to £1.10 in Britain, but consumer groups are demanding a boycott on 13 September.

Italy's leading flour maker, Grandi Molini Italiani, and pasta and poultry producers are planning further price increases, shocking Italians, said to choose pasta over sex.

Rising wealth and consumption in India and China have seen Asian demand for flour soar.

The green trend for bio-fuels is also blamed for boosting demand for grain.

The US Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, reports world wheat stocks are falling to a 26-year low of less than 115 million tonnes.

But the trigger for this week's price rises was hot winds sweeping across western Australia, causing severe damage to the already struggling wheat crop.

Australia's wheat crop could now be two million tonnes lower than even the most pessimistic forecasts, said Kim Chance, western Australia's agriculture minister.

Australia's weather trouble "compounds what is already a fairly desperate problem", said Simon Ingle, head of milling wheat for Britain's largest farmer-run grain co-operative, Grainfarmers.

"This is extremely serious. Importing nations such as Egypt, India and Morocco have to pay at least twice as much for wheat as they did last year," he added.

Grain traders said it was difficult to know how much further prices could climb.

"We are not yet at a level where we can ration demand enough to stabilise global consumption," another European trader said.

"It is hard to say what that level would be. We have no history."

This article:

Last updated: 05-Sep-07 00:54 BST

At September 14, 2007 4:15 PM, Blogger Jade said...

Thank you ericswan, all of that information is important and interesting. Might I suggest that in the future you leave a short description and a link (or a web address), just for brevities sake? I promise I WILL read it and I do find it a worthwhile contribution. Thanks! :)

In fact, I was thinking I should really post my favorite crouton recipe, because it's a great way to use left-over bread that is too stale for sandwiches.


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