|A particularly wonderful yard sculpture.
|Update: overnight the strange pumpkin-head bagged a skeleton.
Burns Park School Parade, Halloween 2022
|A particularly wonderful yard sculpture.
|Update: overnight the strange pumpkin-head bagged a skeleton.
|Global food insecurity from "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World"
Published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2022.
In all the kitchens of the world, cooks are worried about food scarcity, higher prices, and short supplies of favorites, and even of necessities. Food insecurity is increasing, on a global scale. One reason is deteriorating conditions for growing crops in many places. Climate change is accelerating food supply problems and cooperation among nations to take effective measures against the warming planet are not going well. Here’s the unfortunate and inconvenient fact:
"With each fraction of a degree of warming, tens of millions more people worldwide would be exposed to life-threatening heat waves, food and water scarcity, and coastal flooding while millions more mammals, insects, birds and plants would disappear." (New York Times, October 26,2022)
Declining food production is already occurring in some places, and hunger — even starvation — is already widespread in some parts of the world. Besides climate change, the war in Ukraine has caused higher prices of grains and cooking oil. Though not as disastrous as was first expected, the situation is volatile. The impact of the war on global food supplies and prices is very important and also complicated. I have not addressed it in this post: the issue needs much more space and attention than what I have written here.
Thinking about people around the world and their problems obtaining healthy food, or in fact any food, is often on my mind. I’m also thinking about how current issues are directly affecting my kitchen and kitchens like mine. For this blog post, admittedly centered on the American kitchen of the moment, I’ve chosen just a few examples of foods in my kitchen that almost everyone in the US depends on, but that are affected by the variables of a warming planet. I definitely know that I’m privileged, but these details are part of a big picture of the state of the whole world’s kitchens.
“Because Hurricane Ian made landfall three weeks later than Irma, almost all of southwest Florida’s tomato seedlings were planted when the storm arrived, meaning that many acres will need to be replanted after basic services are restored in Lee and Charlotte Counties, counties hit hard by Ian.” (source)
More from my refrigerator: cucumbers from Canada; lettuce, celery, and
carrots from California,
and fresh ginger from an unnamed source.
“For three years, Central Valley lettuce and leafy greens growers have battled Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV), which is a plant pathogenic virus. Hot weather three weeks ago really activated INSV damage. But the influence of the disease begins with the outset of summer. In mid-October, yields were down as much as 50% below full production … ‘the industry is reaching some peak pricing.’” (source)
“Florida’s Natural” Labels:
The Old: "NOT FROM CONCENTRATE NON GMO"
The New: "FROM CONCENTRATE"
(photos are from supermarket websites)
The sad fact is that production of oranges in Florida’s citrus groves is no longer adequate to supply American OJ-drinking habits. Diseases of the trees, insect pests, and disastrous weather events have devastated the citrus crops for several years. After decades of emphasizing that all their juice was grown in Florida, the Florida’s Natural growers now explain :
"Unfortunately, the Florida orange crop has been declining for decades while our fans continue to buy more and more Florida's Natural orange juice. The Florida orange crop can no longer meet our consumer demand, so we are adding in only the best Mexican Valencia orange juice."
Besides all the other problems, hurricane Ian resulted in a total loss of this year’s crop for many citrus farmers in its path, and up to 30% of their trees may be lost. “Even before the storm, the USDA had predicted the Florida orange crop would be down by a third this year.” (NPR, October 14)
|Don’t worry, we do have something other than vegetables in the house.
In fact, we are ready for the trick-or-treaters. I promise not to eat any before 6 PM.
Candy prices have gone up a lot, but that’s yet another discussion!
|In the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology of the University of Michigan is a stunning set of murals copied
from the originals in the Villa of Mysteries in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. (Museum Website)
|The Kelsey Museum is located in a historic building from 1891. (Source: the University of Michigan).
In her new novel Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver has created modern parallels to a number of the characters from David Copperfield, as well as adopting some of the plot elements from the novel. Her invention involves a modern American setting and appropriate sociological observations of a town in western Virginia: a rural community full of victims who have been devastated by the loss of mining jobs, the decay of the community, and the lack of education or meaningful social services.
The character of Demon Copperhead obviously is channeling Dickens’ title character. Many other Dickens creations are also reproduced in modern guise, including a couple named McCobb who are just as hapless as the original Micawbers. Kingsolver creates a suitably slimy figure similar to Dickens’ really icky Uriah Heep. Murdstone, the stepfather in Dickens becomes Stoner — equally bad. Kingsolver depicts the women who are beloved by Demon Copperhead as parallels to the original Dickens women, and she includes several other modern versions of characters from the classic novel.
The American social problems that drive Kingsolver’s plot include the heartless American foster-parent system for orphaned children, as well as the utter destruction caused by the prescription drug epidemic and the drug companies and reps that pushed many people into horrific addiction. The desperation of first pain and then addiction are depicted with great sympathy and poignancy, and this substantial part of Kingsolver’s writing is truly powerful. The characters’ awareness of the greed and shamelessness of the drug companies creates a very socially conscious narrative, which is a strength of the novel.
While I have enjoyed and admired many of Kingsolver’s novels, including this one, I don’t think she was able to come anywhere near Dickens’ genius at observation of details, creation of vivid individuals, his deep feelings for the fate of the characters, or his amazing dialog that in my opinion stuns the reader with its brilliance. The comparison would be unfair, if it had not been demanded by the author.
It’s been quite a while since I reread the original novel — so I’ll say no more until I read it again and can make more apt comparisons.
Review © 2022 mae sander.
|In the park.
|A few days ago, the Great Pumpkins arrived at their usual home.
|Carving the pumpkins happened earlier than usual this year: a whole week before the holiday.
|The owner of the pumpkins posed next to the tallest pumpkin they have ever had,
though she says it’s not the heaviest of all time. She and her husband have displayed giant pumpkins
for over a decade for every Halloween, and they set the tone for the whole neighborhood.
A drama full of violence and pathos. The similarity to Shakespeare’s
becomes less and less important as the film goes on. Plot summary:
Prince Amleth is the son of the king. His mother and uncle conspire to kill
the king, marry each other, and take over. Rest of story: REVENGE.
|Much of the action is set in 9th century Iceland. There’s lots of black magic, witches, and the like.
|I think the costumes, sod houses, boats, and armor are pretty accurate.
|Iceland is a ravishingly beautiful location, and the film captured lots of great vistas.
Andri, Chief of Police in an Icelandic fishing village, is challenged by numerous
He has lots of quirks — the best-known being that he drinks milk.
The burly and brooding Andri is played by actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.
|Hinrika, Andri's brave & competent partner in the
investigation, is played by Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir.
|The fishing village where Andri is Chief of Police. Who would think it would be a hotbed of crime!
|Map showing the location of the real village where the filming was done.
Ridiculously unAmerican s'mores from the Great British Baking Show.
As you see: we've been watching a lot of TV. Every Friday morning for 10 weeks we are watching a newly-released episode of the Great British Baking Show. This series isn't as good as it used to be, but still is nice mindless fun. The latest episode included an American "pastry" — s'mores. I would never have considered this childhood campfire treat as "pastry," but the judges made the contestants bake their own graham crackers: in Britspeak that would be "Digestive Biscuits." I've never heard of a normal American who has baked graham crackers from scratch for other than religious reasons. Nabisco Honey Grahams are the prescribed choice for s'mores.
Still more ridiculous: the bakers had to make their own marshmallows and some kind of fancy chocolate confection to substitute for the customary Hershey Bar. And the judges’ method won’t work. They required the bakers to make marshmallows that were equal in size to around 4 commercial American marshmallows, which meant that the contestants couldn't possible toast them correctly so they were gooey, as you should for s'mores. Of course they also required using a kitchen torch, not a campfire, but that’s a detail.
|In case you don’t know it: this is a real s'more with a gooey toasted marshmallow melting the chocolate. (source)
One contestant did torch his marshmallows long enough to make them gooey, and Prue’s reaction was to make one of her dismissive sniffy noises and say that his marshmallows shouldn’t be so soft, and the chocolate isn't supposed to drip down.
Dear Prue and Paul: Drippy chocolate and very soft hot toasted marshmallows are authentic features of s'mores. The word “gooey” even appears in the first published s’mores recipe in the1927 Girl Scout Handbook (see it here). If America were a third-world country, you'd be guilty of cultural appropriation and ethnic insensitivity like what you did on Mexican Week recently. I'm sorry you have run out of variations on Victoria Sponge and are resorting to all kinds of foods that you don’t know much about.
More British than the Great British Baking show is “Marple” one of many interpretations of the work of Agatha Christie over the 100+ years since she began writing mysteries. "Marple" originally ran from 2004-2014, and is currently available for streaming. We are watching this slowly. I especially like Geraldine McEwan, one of the two actresses who plays Miss Marple in this series. Of course there are many cups of tea!