Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meatless Monday: Farewell Summer. Hello Winter.

Indian Summer ended abruptly in the Northeast just over a week ago when Alfred dumped record amounts of snow in places less just a short drive from here. We were lucky along the Connecticut shoreline. As the weathermen explained it, the temperature of the water on the Sound was still too warm (in the upper 50s) to allow snow to accumulate along the shore. Right at the water’s edge, all it did was rain. In downtown New Haven we had to shovel a few inches of slush. The significant amounts of heavy wet snow falling on branches still covered with leaves caused numerous downed trees, limbs, and power lines over much of the inland portions of the state. At one point, nearly one million Connecticut residents were without power; as of Sunday night, some 114,000 CL&P customers are still in the dark.

The saddest thing for me was losing my backyard miracle. My two container-grown grape tomato plants, bought at a nursery school fundraiser, had been turning out a bumper crop of tiny, tasty fruits ever since mid-July. I had finally found the perfect thing to grow in my very small, mostly shady yard.

I had been hoping for a few more warm, sunny days so all the fruit on the vine-like branches would ripen. But when the slushy snow began to fall, I rushed out to pick everything over the size of a marble. The branches were sprawling and tangled. There were tomatoes everywhere. I should have worn gloves. Here is my yield. See how many? Monetarily speaking, these two plants paid for themselves many times over, not to mention the pleasure they brought me for so many weeks.

I am not a big fan of fried green tomatoes, so I’m giving my dad’s trick of putting green tomatoes in a shoebox with an apple a try. I know it works for larger, nearly mature fruit. The apple gives off ethylene gas as it ripens; the gas also ripens the tomatoes. One of the things that ethylene does is to stop production of chlorophyll, allowing the colors associated with ripe fruit to become unmasked. Ethylene gas is sometimes used to ripen fruit as it travels to market. You can read more here

I hope I can salvage some of my last tastes of Summer. It’s the first day of early darkness, and right now it feels like a long time until my favorite season rolls around again.

Back to Alfred for a second: If any of you were among the unfortunate ones whose trees sustained damage in the recent storm, this link is a fantastic resource for helping you determine if your trees can be saved. 

One more thing relating to my previous post: We got our shopping cart. We used it. And, in case you are wondering, the salvia is still in bloom because we brought it in during the storm and those really cold days. Not ready to say “good-bye.”

Have a great week. And remember that Tuesday is Election Day.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

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