Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Chasing Ice"

One of many exquisite photos from the film

      Green Bin gets ignored once more, because I must urge everyone to see the film Chasing Ice. Link to official site for CHASING ICE.  James Balog, veteran nature photographer and author, has made an extraordinary documentary about the receding and death of glaciers. That, in short, is the visible proof of GLOBAL WARMING. He documented the process by painstakingly setting up cameras in Greenland,  Iceland and Alaska.
     The film is gorgeous, dramatic, fantastic and scary. I hope everyone sees it. As we overheard one viewer say on the way out of the theatre, "It's beautifully depressing."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey—Friend Not Food

     The week before Thanksgiving my friend Jenny (famous for her pumpkin bread) began wearing this necklace.
Friend not Food necklace from Vegan Cuts

     She is a faithful vegetarian and I highly respect her for that. Her husband Dean is very supportive even though his family owns Golden Gate Meat Company! I too have become more and more concerned about the  inhumane treatment and slaughter of farm animals, so I was pleased to read this front page article on Mary's Chickens in The Chronicle this Sunday, "Poultry Bet Pays Off".  Mary and Dave Pitman's philosophy is that all birds must be free-range (every hen house has a spacious yard where they're free to wander). Because they won't feed the birds antibiotics for non-therapeutic use, their barns must be roomier, cleaner and warmer than most conventional farms, so the fowl won't get sick. And they have instituted a much more humane method of slaughtering their chickens. They purchased a controlled atmosphere stunning system in Europe, approved by PETA, which renders the killing process much less traumatic for the birds. They would like to buy another for their turkeys. I've always liked Mary's chickens because they're air-dried and flavorful, but now that I know about the ethical treatment of their birds, I won't buy anything else. It's a first step.
     Though I will be feasting on roast turkey on Thursday, I will not forget to give special thanks to the bird who gave his life for my pleasure; and I will think of Jenny happily eating her Tofurkey among a large family of meat-eaters.

Jenny's Thanksgiving Tofurkey roast

I also want to mention that Jenny adopted a turkey through "Adopt a Turkey Project", created by an organization called Farm Sanctuary. They rescue and rehabilitate turkeys and other farm animals, and for a small fee, they provide an opportunity to adopt and visit their animals at  their sanctuaries in California and upstate New York. What a great idea!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arch Street Persimmons #2

                                                                      November fruit          
                                                                  Glowing amber-orange
                                                                       Fading slowly

Fortunately the leaves were still vivid when I visited the Arch Street tree for the second time, because most of the persimmons were gone... picked or fallen in the wind. Perhaps the lucky owner made my favorite persimmon bread. The recipe calls for ripe hachiyas (not the crisp fuyu variety), and appears in Beard on Bread by James Beard, dating from 1973.                                                                

                                                               Persimmon Bread

In his introduction to this recipe James Beard comments,"Persimmons grow in many countries of the world, but often, as in France, they are left hanging on the trees. In this country we have learned to appreciate their superb deep-orange color, their shape, and their delicious flavor... In earlier times they were allowed to ripen on the trees until dead ripe before being eaten raw or used for puddings, cookies, and breads. Nowadays they show up in our markets in a firm state and must be left at room temperature for several days or a week to ripen until they are almost mushy."
                           3 1/2 cups flour                         1 cup melted butter
                           1 teaspoon salt                          4 eggs, lightly beaten
                           2 teaspoons baking soda           2/3 cup Cognac or Bourbon 
                          1 teaspoon nutmeg                    2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts & raisins (optional)
                          2 cups granulated sugar          2 cups persimmon puree from about 4 medium, very
                                                                            ripe persimons—not necessary to peel                                                                    

Sift all five dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Then make a well in the center and add the melted butter, eggs, Bourbon (I always use Bourbon instead of Cognac, which gives the bread a je ne sais quoi magical quality), persimmon puree, and if you like, the nuts and raisins. Mix the dough until it is quite smooth. Butter two 9X5X3" loaf pans, or four smaller molds, and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool the loaves in the pans and turn out on a rack.
Note: Wrap in foil after cooling. They will keep nicely from 1 to 2 weeks


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crosses of Lafayette

On the way out to the beautiful suburb of Lafayette, just east of Berkeley in Contra Costa County, you pass a stunning sight—an extravagantly wide hillside covered with white, wooden crosses. This dramatic landscape (really an earthwork), serves as a memorial for U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Each cross represents a casualty, and a large, bold sign at the top of the hill denotes the number of soldiers killed from 2003 to the present. The memorial is clearly visible from both Highway 24 and from the BART train as it passes. A glimpse of the thousands of crosses is always a visceral reminder that the U.S. is still at war, and that every day real people are losing their lives. It always brings tears to my eyes.
Link to 2010 You Tube video of the sight 
The project was started in 2006 by Jeff Heaton, a local building contractor, on land owned by Louise Clark. The Mount Diablo and Lamorinda Peace and Justice Centers, and Grandparents for Peace, joined Mr. Heaton to support the project. Volunteers erected 300 crosses on Veterans Day 2006, and they continued to maintain the sight and add crosses until, at number 4,500, they ran out of space. They now simply post the number of casualties on the placard at the top of the hill. Originally, only service members killed in Iraq were represented, but when parents and friends of soldiers killed in Afghanistan asked that their loved ones also be included, 600 crosses were added. Mr. Heaton said that no one knows exactly how many crosses are currently on the hill. When I photographed the site the number read 6,667. This number represents only American casualties.

There have been some individuals who have objected to the memorial as anti-American and anti-military, and vandals have occasionally removed crosses and dismantled the sign that lists the numbers.  However, on the day I visited, many passing motorists honked their horns in solidarity.

Most crosses are white, but many are colored or decorated.

Mosaic cross designed by an unknown artist

View of Mt Diablo on the way to Lafayette
Majestic and peaceful, Mt. Diablo comes into view at the Hwy 24 gateway to the lovely town of Lafayette, named after Marquis de La Fayette, a French general who fought and encouraged France's participation in the American Revolution. The landscape is stunning and serene, but you soon pass the crosses of Lafayette and you are reminded that the war grinds on in the Middle-East. On this Veteran's Day 2012 the black number on the bright sign above the crosses reads 6,667.


Monday, November 5, 2012

President Barack Obama

Flavor of the day: Baracky Road

To support Obama's campaign, the geniuses at Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream offered a creatively titled version of Rocky Road at the Ferry Plaza Market. Secret Breakfast is my absolute favorite, but on Nov.6 let's indulge in Baracky Road to propel Obama to victory!    Slocombe's great web site

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Great bumper sticker photographed in North Berkeley BART parking lot