Sunday, August 15, 2010

Adventures in Cooking: Canning

I've never canned anything before this summer, but ever since I found some homey homemaker blogs a few years ago, I thought I'd give it a try. (Perhaps because I'm a suburbanite, born and raised, that I have two recurring fantasies - living sustainably on a homestead and living the city life in New York.)

One super duper cool thing about living in HoCo is all the great farms and farmers markets. I happen to love Gorman Farm's produce stand. One day, I may join the CSA, but for now I'm content to visit the produce stand. I bought a huge box of Roma tomatoes a couple of weeks ago and tried out a few of the recipes from The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest.

First, I made some Tomato Jam, which is nice and savory, but slightly sweet spread that's good on a bagel with cream cheese. When I first made it, I had more than I could can so I served it fresh and hot on chicken. YUM.

Today, I made a tomato-basil sauce (not from Preserving the Harvest) that will be a great base to jazz up with wine, bay leaves, and garlic, as well as a salsa. Can't wait to try those!

We've got a little bit of summer vacation left before school, and hopefully we can make it to some more farms and load up on more fruits and veggies to can. I'd like to try my hand at pickles.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wondering Aloud: Local Non-Partisan Politics Edition

Yesterday, I spent some time reading a very thoughtful discussion thread between a few local Board of Education candidates and concerned citizens. There's this little Yahoo group in my neck of the woods where these people gather, but for some reason I thought there were more members than there are (273).

273! Come on!

I'm pretty concerned about the outcome of this election. The board members and the central office administration will need to make really tough budget decisions for the foreseeable future, given declining municipal revenues and whatnot. My kids are among those who will be affected by those decisions.

So if in my county of about 175,000 registered voters only 273 people have found and joined this group, this resource, this great forum where one current official and four or five of the eleven candidates post messages with decent frequency, how do all the others learn about the candidates and arrive at their voting decisions?

Back in the early to mid-00's I read the newspaper (on actual paper) to learn about the candidates. It wasn't a one-shot deal, either, like a spread comparing all the candidates or an election primer piece or such. My opinions were formed over time by reading education articles in the local weekly paper, with occasional bits by the local major daily paper as well.

Now, we've got this nice Yahoo group, the online versions of the weekly and daily papers, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. I wondered how the candidates were using these venues.

On Facebook, 8 of the 11 candidates have a presence. One of those seems to only have a personal profile, and he has almost 900 "friends". The others have set up pages for themselves as candidates, separate from their profiles. Connections to these pages range from 17 to 252. Two of the candidates who post regularly to the Yahoo! group have 17-18 people connected ("likes") to their Facebook candidate page. Hmm.

About 95,000 people voted in the 2008 general election for Board of Education. (285,201 votes were cast across all the candidates in a "choose three" vote). I suppose that number will be lower this year. In 2006 (the last non-presidential election year), about 67,000 people voted in the Board of Education election. That's a lot more than 20, or 200 for that matter.

So, Board of Ed candidates, how are you getting out the vote?