Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Maggie and Greta's Marvelous Morel Meal Recipe

1. Saute one finely chopped onion and three garlic cloves in a little olive oil

2. Add two cups of morels

3. Saute for a couple of minutes

4. Add cooked chicken or shrimp (optional)

5. Add one and a half cups of cream and chopped chives

6. Add garlic salt and stir over low heat

7. Serve over pasta or rice

Monday, May 26, 2008

A video about StoryCorps

Here's an ABC news story where StoryCorps founder Dave Isay was spotlighted. Our StoryCorps project starts this week with a community meeting on Thursday May 29th at 6pm. Let us know if you'd like to be a part of it! Don't forget the StoryCorps airstream will be here at the end of August - you'll have the opportunity to have a conversation with someone you care about.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

When to Plant that Plant

For many of us in northern Minnesota, the planting instructions on the backs of seed packets are a little too imprecise. Do we really have the option of planting peas anytime between April and June in the north woods? What are the most tender plants and which ones are hardy?

Joel Rosen has operated Park Lake Farm near Mahotwa for many years and offers this advice for local gardeners:

In the past few weeks I've heard quite a few on-air conversations about when people are planting and/or transplanting vegetables in their gardens. Below are some guidelines that some listeners might find helpful. Feel free to forward to anyone who expresses an interest.

Generally, planting and transplanting dates depend on soil temperature, hardiness of species, vigor of seed, and in some cases average last frost date. First class of vegetables includes greens that are quite frost hardy--spinach, mustard, arugula, lettuce, endive, etc. These can be safely seeded anytime in spring the ground is dry enough to work. However, even these cool weather greens will be very slow to germinate in soil temperatures below 40F. For most areas of northern Minnesota, soil temps will be above 40F sometime in early May (but of course, not every year--we are still looking at 9am soil temperatures at the 4" depth in the upper 30's this week) By the time these greens come up as seedlings, they should be hardy enough to withstand the low temperatures likely to occur--for this class down to about 18F.

Another class of small seeds is just as frost-hardy, but requires a higher soil temperature to germinate: peas, onions (from seed) and their relatives, beets, carrots, and parsnips. You can safely plant all of these except peas as early as the greens, but the additional time they take to come up will allow cool weather weeds to create a green carpet that can smother your emerging seedlings. In the case of peas, cold, wet soil may cause seed rot, especially in less vigorous varieties like Sugar Snap. Generally, this group is most successfully seeded about a week to 10 days after the early greens (May 10-15 on average). Beets will be first to come up (6-7 days in favorable weather), followed by peas and onion family (8-10), carrots (12-16), and parsnips (16-20).

About the same time as this group, a small planting of seed potatoes for early new potatoes can be safely set in the ground. These should not be planted as deeply as later main-crop potatoes as the cooler soil at lower depths will delay emergence--1-2" is probably best. Once potatoes come up, (2-3 weeks at this time of year) they are somewhat frost sensitive, but they will usually tolerate an eye level temperature of about 28F if they are still only a couple of inches above the ground which will retain some warmth on a cold night. If potatoes do get burned by hard frost in June, they will usually just grow back with little ill effect. I wouldn't advise putting the main crop of potatoes in this early, as there is some risk and little advantage to be gained. Potatoes that mature at the end of the growing season will usually store better over the winter.

Following these first two groups, there is a significant time lag before other things can be safely planted from seed. The main consideration is average or last expected frost date, but soil temperature and moisture are also critical in some cases. Sweet corn is a good example. While sweet corn seedlings will withstand a light frost, they should not be planted until the soil is warm and dry. If you're anxious to plant sweet corn while the calendar still says May, be certain that weather anticipated for the next seven days is warm and relatively dry. Most sweet corn seed, especially the sweeter varieties, will not germinate until the soil temps approach 60F. In cool, wet conditions, untreated seed will rot. Over the years I have lost lots more sweet corn seed due to cold soil than due to June frost. In an average year, I plant sweet corn on June 6th, but some years the soil is still too cool and damp on this date.

Bean seed is less susceptible to seed rot, so if you're anxious to eat beans early, they can be safely planted about a week before the last average frost date.

The vines, including summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons, are most successfully grown from transplants, but they can be direct seeded a few days before the last average frost date. Squash and pumpkins will usually survive a brief, light frost, but cucumbers and melons are among the most frost sensitive crops in the garden, so it's advisable to separate planting dates by 4-7 days.

Transplants are a somewhat different matter, as these are going to be exposed to wind and cold temperatures in the first 24 hours. Generally, these will fall into three categories. The Brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc) are quite frost hardy and can usually be safely transplanted after the last expected date for temperatures falling below 20F. Of course, seedlings should be healthy and should not be set out on a day that is excessively windy or has an anticipated nighttime temperature approaching the 20F mark as they are most vulnerable before they establish root system.

A group of transplants that is reasonably frost hardy but may suffer premature bolting if set out in cool spring weather includes celery, celeriac, and Swiss chard (also some varieties of broccoli may sometimes "button up" if temperatures are too cool for an extended period of time after setting out). Best to wait until late May-early June to avoid these problems.

Obviously frost-sensitive transplants should not be set out until at least close to the average last frost date and a forecast of warmer than average weather for the first few days. Some transplants like tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and squash will tolerate a brief, light frost if healthy and rooted into the ground, but cucumbers, melons, and eggplants will probably be a total loss.

Most sensitive of all is basil--a hint of frost will kill a basil transplant, and even an extended period of chilly weather without frost will damage basil enough to reduce production later in the summer. In our Lake Superior zone, I wouldn't set basil transplants outdoors until late June and only with a good 3-day forecast. For those who are unsure of their average last frost date, the MN DNR has a nice map which can be accessed through the climatology link on their website under agricultural climate information---agricultural data tables and maps (http://climate.umn.edu) . This map shows by color the range of dates for which the included area will have only a 10% chance for late spring frost.

Counting back about a week to 10 days will generally give the average last frost date. For example, we are in the zone dated June12-18, meaning we have only a 10% chance of frost this late. Over the past 21 years we have experienced frost 3 years after the 12th, so this seems to be a pretty good guide. Our average last frost date is about June 5, so counting back 7-10 days matches up pretty well.

Of course, none of these maps show microclimates or account for soil types, ranging from sandy to heavy clay, nd exposure (full versus partial sun, southern versus northern slope). These factors can affect safe and/or smart planting dates by as much as 3 weeks. A good soil thermometer and some accurate recordkeeping is really the best approach.

--Joel Rosen

Ramblin' Jack

So we're getting ready to talk with Ramblin' Jack tomorrow on the Friday Morning Show and we were inundated by Ramblin' Jack songs and anecdotes in the conference room. Okay, maybe it was the lemon bars talking but Maggie and Mark couldn't STOP telling us about Ramblin' Jack ...

Maggie really likes Jack's rendition of the Dylan song "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and of course "912 Greens" (though it's a VERY long song)... and also South Coast - he won a Grammy in 1998 for it...

Mark told us more about how Ramblin' Jack was the real deal - and that Bob Dylan emulated himself after Jack. Jack lived with Woody Guthrie for awhile - as a student and an observer. Woody's son Arlo has said that because of his dad's early death, it was Ramblin' Jack who really taught him about this dad's music. Oh yeah, Ramblin' Jack was not a train hobo, he was a hitchhiker. And the name didn't come from traveling - Ramblin' came from Jack's love of storytelling.

Ramblin' Jack is headlining the Dylan Days concert on Saturday night at 7pm on the Hibbing High School auditorium stage - joined by Spider John Koerner and Tony Glover. See the Dylan Days website for more information.

What's YOUR favorite Ramblin' Jack song?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Public Education in MN at a Crossroad?

The Brainerd and Crosby-Ironton School Districts have made drastic cuts in their sports, band, choir, debate and other activities budgets. Public education funding hasn't kept up with rising costs, even more so now due to high fuel and food costs. Small school districts are even having trouble offering the range of classes important to many students and their parents. Parents are opting for open enrollment, home scholing and on-line learning to meet their needs.

On Monday, May 19th, on KAXE's Morning Show, we talk to Tom Ellis, Principal, and Mark Weiberg, teacher, at BlueSky Charter School. It's the fastest growing school in MN, and it's all offered on-line. We'll find out how on-line learning works and discuss it's place in the future of public education in MN. If you miss the interview, look for it on KAXE's web site.

As always, we invite your comments, here, on our talkback line, 327-2716, and via e-mail: comments@kaxe.org.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Student Essay on Local Diet

Students in Elaine Fleming's writing class at Leech Lake Tribal College recently completed research projects about the food they eat. The class created skits from their research, and made meals for the tribal college and for the Cass Lake Community Family Center's Family Togetherness Day last week. Elaine said they were able to replace a processed meal of hot dogs and chips at the family center with one that was local and organic.

Cheri Goodwin was one of the students in Elaine's class. Her paper about local eating is both well-researched and personal.

Time for Healthy Changes
By Cheri Goodwin
In our modern day lives, we’ve evolved as humans to become dependent on fast foods, although eating healthier foods would be better for us in the long run. Our society has diverted away from growing and processing our own foods. My research has given me a chance to review my eating habits, evaluate local foods, and look at the way I take care of my body. In the end I hope the research I’ve done will have a positive effect on my family and me. A few of us are somewhat overweight and do very little physical exercise. The following statement from the grocery store I shop at hits my research thoughts right on the nose. In an ad they placed in our local Sunday paper, Luekens Village Foods had the following quote:

I resolve in 2008 to eat more organic & natural foods. Besides, I’m worth it. I deserve the best. My health is too important to me. But there are a few things I
need. I need great taste AND great price. I need to feel good about myself for buying organic & natural foods. No more excuses. 2008 is the year I change my
life. Time for some healthy action. I will look back on this year and be proud. I
won’t have any regrets. Life is wonderful—why not eat wonderful food?

So speaking of wonderful food, I’ve never thought of where the beef in my quarter pounder with cheese came from or my children’s chicken nuggets. I guess I always presumed they came from a cow that was raised on a farm, in the country. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, I learned about the way cattle are raised. Raising cattle to feed billions of people is not a very natural thing to do. Cattle begin their lives on a ranch. There they live the first six months of their lives. Calves need to nurse from their mothers; they are then weaned to various types of grasses. Once weaned, they are ready to go to the feed lot, “A feedlot is very much a premodern city; however, teeming and filthy and stinking with open sewers, unpaved roads and choking air rendered visible by dust” (“Omnivore” 72). According to Pollan, “The only reason contemporary animal cities aren’t as plague ridden or pestilential as their medieval human counterparts is a single historical anomaly: the modern antibiotic” (“Omnivore” 73).

I previously believed that antibiotics were only used for human sickness. Contrary to that fact that antibiotics are used to heal us is “Antibiotics are used in agriculture to promote growth in healthy animals” (“Omnivore” 79). For these reasons, I currently think twice about eating my quarter pound cheeseburger meal from McDonalds, even though due to hunger and time constraints I still have found myself going through a fast food drive-through.

The only thing I’ve ever known cows to eat was grass. I’ve now learned that once cows leave the ranch they are switched from a grass fed diet to a diet of flaked corn, due to the economic logic behind switching their diets. It’s much more economically feasible to feed cattle corn than have them graze on grass. Economics dominate our lives, even so far as evolving cows to eat a different diet to save money. One of the downfalls of cows eating corn is that it can cause bloat. Corn dominates more of our food chain than we think about. Corn is put through what is called a wet mill, “these mills are called wet to distinguish them from the traditional mills where corn is simply ground into dry meal for things like tortillas” (Pollan, “Omnivore” 86). Pollan writes that every bit of a piece of corn is processed into some sort of food science.

The first rough breakdown of all that corn begins with the subdivision of the kernel itself: Its yellow skin will be processed into various vitamins and nutritional supplements; the tiny germ (the dark part nearest the cob, which holds the embryo of the potential future corn plant) will be crushed for its oil; and the biggest part, the endosperm, will be plundered for its rich cache of complex carbohydrates. (“Omnivore” 86)

As you can see, our food chain has evolved into so much more than when we produced our own food. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to raise chickens at my place of work. I had a volunteer who was from Germany; she was raised on a farm there. She came up with the bright idea that we could make a portable chicken coop, utilizing our unusable wheelchair wheels. It sounded brilliant! We provided her with all the materials to build a chicken coop for our elders to observe. She built it right in our main gazebo. All of our residents got to either watch from the window or come outside to watch. One of the reasons she wanted to have our coop mobile was because of our limited green space. After the coop was done, we ordered and purchased chicks from the local food co-op. She picked out chicks that we could butcher. Over the summer, we all watched our chicks go from “cute little chicks” to big chickens. Our coop ended up being difficult to keep clean and hard to move around. Although our chicks did survive the summer, we found out that due to our limited green space they were quite a hassle to raise.

We had decided early in our project that we’d have a feast once our chickens were ready to butcher. On our big day everyone was very excited and willing to help out. One of our residents whose nickname was Farmer, had plenty of experience raising farm animals. Farmer gave us lots of advice and was very excited to be helping out. A few of our staff members had experience butchering chickens, so they volunteered to help. One staff member brought her axe used for chopping chickens’ heads off and a big kettle used for scalding feathers. We even had races to see which one of us could pluck feathers off the fastest. It was a big event for our staff and residents. On that same day our kitchen staff happened to be serving chicken. I overheard one of our lady elders whispering to another lady elder, “I didn’t eat the chicken.” I laughed to myself. This just goes to show all the work that’s involved in raising your own meat compared to going to the store to purchase your food.

Another way we’ve evolved is that we’re not used to raising our food and then processing it to eat. I believe that our raising of chickens at the nursing home was the first time in many years that chickens were raised on our reservation. Raising our chickens also brought back memories of my grandmother, Audrey. She informed me that when she was a young girl, she’d be in charge of preparing her family’s Sunday dinner. She described to me how she’d go out to the barn yard, pick out a chicken to butcher, cut its head off, dress it, and cook it (Cobenais). We now treat our animals we raise as pets, rather than food for our table. Due to modern civilization, it’s way easier for us to purchase our food than to raise our food, although not healthier.

Speaking about healthier, I’ve recently had the opportunity to listen to two local speakers; they both thrive on living healthy lives. One of our speakers was Dennis Montgomery. He and his wife decided last year that they were going to eat local foods within a one-hundred mile radius of their home and business for a year. On February 14th, he spoke to our class. One of his biggest reasons for his decision to eat a local diet was that he wasn’t happy with the “carbon footprint left from food” (Montgomery). He explained that he prefers to support local farmers versus distant farmers, due to the high cost of transportation and packaging. Another factor that concerned him was that big factories were “treating animals as a product instead of a living animal” (Montgomery). He also informed us that if our national transportation system would shut down for three days, our grocery stores would have no food. After listening to him talk, I came to believe that for the most part they already were living a fairly healthy life-style. I also noticed that he had a well built body frame, very lean and muscular. Compared to mine, his body looked very healthy. Mine, as the saying for cow’s meat goes, is nicely marbled.

Our other speaker, Patricia Heart, spoke to our class on February 28, 2008. She also had her own philosophy on healthy living. Like Dennis, Patricia also appeared to have a well maintained body frame. She informed us that she feeds her inner spirit as well as her senses. Her eyes need to be “fed” food, which she gets from having bright colors around her like plants and rocks. She also needs to have food for her soul. Some examples she gave were the sky and watching plants grow. She feeds her ears by not exposing herself to cussing, loud sounds, and gossip. She enjoys smelling natural odors, her woodstove, and her flowers. Finally, she feeds her mouth. She prefers to consume very little meat, dairy products, and definitely no pop. She grows her own fruit and vegetables and buys her food from a buying club. She explained to us that a buying club was a way for her to purchase bulk organic foods at lower costs. She also is very physical; she enjoys ballet and chopping her own wood.

After listening to her speak, I was under the impression that her lifestyle must take up a great deal of her time. I thought that maybe she was the type of person who needed little sleep. She informed us that she sleeps about eight hours a night. I found out she has the unique opportunity of not needing to work outside her home due to the fact she receives alimony from her former husband. For me living her kind of life-style would take a great deal of hard work and time to be successful. I think the majority of us, deep inside, crave this “old style” type of life.

Our class needed more research opportunities for our paper. Our instructor Elaine requested us to look into how many fast food restaurants we have in our local city that tempts us every time we drive by them. I counted fifteen. Fast food restaurants are “the most advertised, thus their foods are consumed the most” (Spurlock). Personally, my family eats at a fast food restaurant about three times a month. I was curious to know how many people these fast foods businesses draw from. “The total population of Bemidji in the 2000 census was 11,917 people, and the community hub was over 55,000 people” (Wikipedia). A community hub is the surrounding communities of a city. Of all the different ethnic groups represented in Bemidji, the total for our people, Anishinaabe, is 11.52 % (Wikipedia).

These fast food places contribute to our peoples numerous health problems. One of the biggest for our people is diabetes. Risk factors in developing diabetes is obesity. “3 in 5 diabetics are overweight or obese, 1 in 2 diabetics have sedentary lifestyles, 1 in 4 diabetics have no leisure time physical activity, and 1 in 5 diabetics are current smokers” (Minnesota Department of Health). I’m currently in the process of getting all of my blood levels checked; I hope my results come back negative. I know I’ve gained weight over the past couple years, and I don’t participate in an active lifestyle. So, it looks like if I don’t take some action soon, I’ll be heading for a life with multiple health problems. One thing I’m proud of is that I’ve finally quit smoking.

During my research on improving my eating habits, I took a shopping trip to Harmony Natural Food Co-op, located in Bemidji. Harmony foods is a local food co-op that has all types of organic and locally grown foods. Right when I entered the store, I noticed it was very “earthy.” The sun was shining in their two big southern facing windows. They had lots of live plants sitting in front of their windows, and I even noticed a sign advertising wireless internet connection for their customers. When I first encounter a new store, I look over all the available products and then take mental notes of products comparable to what I use. After I surveyed the store, I picked up a basket and started through the store again. The first section was their fruit. I decided to purchase a bag of organic apples from the state of Washington, and they were comparable to what I usually pay, three pounds for $4.29. Another thing I noticed was that their fruit didn’t look as fresh as fruit in my local food store. It seemed to me that there were not enough consumers purchasing their fruit. I then noticed organic avocados on sale for $1.45. Wow, I thought! Now that’s a good deal. During my initial survey, I also noticed a collection of packaged organic dips; I selected a package of guacamole dip to mix with my avocados. My thoughts were that I’d have a delicious snack for my family that night, baked potato chips and organic dip.

I looked their dairy products over. They had organic milk, butter, and juice. Most of the dairy products sold were much higher in price than I was used to paying. I settled on purchasing a dozen organic eggs raised on a local farm in Bagley, Minnesota. The eggs cost me $2.99 a dozen. The packaging was very simple with just a sticker and the farm’s name on the carton. The next product that caught my eye was organic whole wheat macaroni. Macaroni is a big hit at our house! They also had large cans of organic fire smoked tomatoes, which they sold two cans for $6.00 with an in store coupon. Great deal for me! Visions of my meal for that night were of very healthy and delicious foods.

My trip to the local food co-op was a very informative and educational experience. In their freezer section, they had grass fed beef which came from Menahga, Minnesota. This hamburger sold for $5.98 a pound. That night all of my family members enjoyed our organic supper; we all actually enjoyed the taste of wheat macaroni. My husband does the majority of the cooking at our house; he cooks delicious meals for us. When we had breakfast, my husband boiled both types of eggs I had in my refrigerator, organic and inorganic. We all agreed that the organic eggs tasted much better than the inorganic eggs.

My husband also hunts deer every fall for us. He makes sure to get enough deer to last us throughout the year. The majority of our deer meat is ground up and mixed with extra lean ground beef. We usually mix our meat eighty percent deer to twenty percent beef. As far back as I can remember, it’s been a family event for us to wrap and date our meat. The younger children enjoy writing on our packages. My husband also has a friend who raises his own pigs. We buy one-half a pig from him about two times a year. The pig is taken to a local butcher who processes and wraps up our meat. These are examples of our family efforts to eat locally and in a healthy manner.

I also kept track of my food intake for a week. I now see that I lack adequate amounts of dairy products and fruit in my diet. More physical activity needs to be incorporated into my life. Another thing is that my food portions are more than my body needs. After all my research, I’ve decided to take a stand for my health and live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been procrastinating for a very long time on starting an exercise program. I’ve researched the internet and found a site that gives me good tips on being healthy and setting exercise goals. I’m now on my way to tracking my exercise activities. This site I’ve signed on to is sponsored by our government. Even the name of this web sight encourages me, Small Steps. Doing a little something to improve my health is better than doing nothing. By implementing healthy steps into my life, I hope to set a good example for my family and live a healthier life-style.

Works Cited
Cobenais, Audrey. Personal Interview. 8 Aug. 1999.
Heart, Patricia. “Local Diet.” Leech Lake Tribal College, Cass Lake. 28 Feb. 2008.
Luekens Village Foods. Advertisement. 17 Feb. 2008.
Minnesota Department of Health Fact Sheet. Diabetes in Minnesota. 6 Mar. 2008
Montgomery, Dennis. “Local Diet.” Leech Lake Tribal College, Cass Lake. 14 Feb. 2008.
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. New York: Penquin Books, 2006.
Super Size Me. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. DVD. Kathbur Pictures, Inc., 2004.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

25th anniversary of Phenology and the KAXE Rain Garden

Extension educator with the U of MN Extension Service Mary Blickendorfer joined Scott Hall on the Morning Show today to talk about the new rain garden at KAXE to celebrate 25 years of the Phenology Show with John Latimer.

Mary explained that a rain garden is not a pond - and that it does not need to be next to a body of water. "Anyone who owns property and a house can have a rain garden" she said. "Rain gardens help water quality - they reduce flooding, improve groundwater..."

Unlike a pond, a rain garden is a temporary collector of water. If the water were to sit more than 48 hours and collect it would be a mosquito breeding ground. With a rain garden at KAXE on the Mississippi River, the rain will soak into the soil and be transpired into plants and back out into the atmosphere during that 48 hour time period.

Mary is going to be on The Morning Show with Scott as the rain garden proceeds. The next step is to get Gopher One out to make sure we are safe and not hitting any power lines. After that, we'll have to work on getting rid of some plants we don't want like tansy and white cockle...

The good news Mary told Scott, is that the soil is good - loamy sand to sandy loamy.

The other step is to pick out an array of Minnesota Native plants for the rain garden. What do you recommend? Do you have a rain garden? We'd love your advice!

If you are interested in rain gardens, Mary suggested doing some online research. Check out these sites:
Maplewood, Minnesota's Rain Garden Project

Friday, May 2, 2008

A post from Linda Johnson


KAXE may be overwhelming to some. It happened. I heard, went to the KAXE chicken workshop, now have baby Myrtle and Ruby--Golden Stars, Dagney, Elna, Eula, Rose, and Esther--Buff Orpingtons, and Orville, Leonard, C.W., Albert, and Walter--Cornish Cross. Beej is showing promise in her Peep Protector Training.

I listened. Put in 10 taps. Then 20. Heard Egon reporting hundreds of liters of sap. Put in 54 taps total—sleep deprivation for a month hauling sap in 3 snow storms and evaporating on my pathetically small wood stove (although it does sport a KAXE bumper sticker) outside. More sap than thought possible. I learn, but continue to listen, thus still a listener-at-risk.

“You can save seeds”, they said. Been giving away seeds, plants, tomatoes, salsa, sauce and hope to have the freezer cleared by harvest.

“Canning is easy!” they announce. So, the pre-zip code era pressure cooker, canner, tons of jars pile up. I intermittently laugh, cry and laugh…a lot…and keep listening to KAXE.

Maggie says to blog. This is my would-be-blog, ‘cept I don’t know how to transfer it to blog form…yet.

Does anyone else think a KAXE listener support group is a good idea?

Please email me or comment here. Heartfelt thanks, Linda

The Big Questions in Life

When a recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of egg whites, what do you do with the yolks? Throw 'em? Drink 'em? Make creme brulee?

John and I just got done making a angelfood birthday cake in the KAXE kitchen for his daughter's birthday party tonight. If you had been there, this is what you would have heard:

What are stiff peaks?

What the hell does "cut through batter twice with a knife" mean?

Are you going to wash the dime?

Surely you're not going to throw away 11 egg yolks?

I put the cake upside down on a pop bottle?

John's mom, my inspiration in baking, always baked a dime for good luck in her cakes, so John will be doing the same for his daughter Meg.

Here's the recipe we used:
Printed from COOKS.COM

1 1/2 c. egg whites
1 1/4 c. sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract

In large mixing bowl put egg whites and let set to room temperature about 1 hour.
Sift flour with 3/4 cup sugar, sift 3 times and set aside. Beat egg whites, medium speed with salt and cream of tartar until forms soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 3 tablespoons at a time. Beat after each addition. Beat at high speed until it forms peaks. Then at low speed add extracts. Sift in flour mixture 1/4 at a time, mixing at low speed 3 seconds after each addition or until mixture is completely blended.

With rubber scraper gently push batter into ungreased 10" tube pan. Cut through batter twice with a knife. Bake on lower rack in oven 35 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees, or until cake tests done. Let cool completely, about 2 hours. Invert tube pan over bottle to cool.

P.P.S MT "nothing goes to waste" Head took the 11 egg
yolks. No worries.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

NO Chickens Allowed!

Ethan Montgomery recently looked into whether Bemidji’s municipal code would allow him to keep chickens in his yard in town. Here’s what he wrote about the experience:

"Many people think of chickens as farm livestock rather than backyard pets. Actually, chickens have a lot to offer. When I heard of the urban chicken concept I was initially skeptical… “Mom, are you serious?” “Absolutely,” she said. I began researching, already aware that chickens lead cruel lives in the corporate/agribusiness world. The extent is more than I had expected - they are debeaked with hot clippers, pumped full of growth chemicals that can cause their legs to collapse from rapid weight gain, and many die from the sheer stress of their situation. I already knew that brown farm eggs taste better than "regular" eggs.

I did not know that recent research found that eggs from chickens allowed to forage naturally have, on average, seven times more beta carotene (which is what makes pastured egg yolks so orange), three times more vitamin E, two times more omega-3 fatty acids and two-thirds more vitamin A than those from factory farmed chickens. Pastured eggs also have one-third less cholesterol and one-quarter less saturated fat, on average (Mother Earth News). I would reasonably conclude that this is a result of better diet and living conditions.

I was also unaware that a backyard chicken "agri-hipster" movement existed. Many of the participants have as few as three or four chickens-others as many as several dozen. Chickens are allowed in various forms in the cities of New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Topeka, Los Angeles, and many others. Common conditions for keeping chickens include, but are not limited to, guidelines of how far from property lines they may be kept, the number of chickens that may be kept, whether roosters are allowed, and if consent from the neighbors is required.

Bemidji, MN has an outdated and arbitrary code that I would like to see replaced by a proposal I constructed that takes inspiration from many other proposals from city council members and interested citizens across the nation. Bemidji is an informed city and this is exactly the sort of code adjustment to help lead it a little closer to sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Nowhere in Bemidji’s municipal code (http://www.municode.com/Resources/gateway.asp?pid=13726&sid=23) does it say that chickens are banned. In Chapter 6 (animals), Article 3 (animals and poultry) the code states that a permit is required from the city. Since no permit is required for having a dozen cats, I propose that either this requirement either be extended to dogs, cats, etc., or it should be removed for hens, if not roosters.

The criteria for issuance of a city permit is as follows: “No permit required under this division shall be issued to an owner if to do so would constitute a health hazard or constitute a nuisance to others in any form.” My neighbor’s dog knocks over my trashcan, barks, and occasionally relieves itself in my yard while it’s "just passing through the neighborhood." The dog is a nuisance in many ways. I can hardly see how three to six penned hens would constitute a greater nuisance than one unruly, unrestrained canine. I am not inherently against dogs and cats…I think they are wonderful animals, even if they aren’t as good to have in a city as chickens.

I called the animal control officer for the city for details about the municipal code; he referred me to the website above. Fortunately I had already read the ordinance and knew to ask what was necessary to get a permit. The response was that a clean area for the chickens to live and exercise was all that was required.

Then he got suspicious and asked where I lived. Upon hearing that I lived near the technical college I was told that I would never get a permit. I was “in proximity to other people.” He may or may not have understood that my true intention was not to start my own miniature chicken flock to generate complaints for him, but he didn’t seem enthused. After thanking him and hanging up I bristled a bit at being arbitrarily told by a bureaucrat that having even two or three hens would not be permitted because it would constitute a nuisance.

I live on a double lot (.38 acres), and while I agree that this is not a huge swath of land, it certainly is more than adequate considering the lesser restrictions in place in the four largest cities in the United States of America. In Minneapolis, the largest city in the state, you are allowed to keep an unlimited number of chickens provided you have the consent of 80% of your neighbors within 100ft of real estate and provided that the chickens (roosters are allowed as well) are penned. I was displeased that the decision about whether I was hypothetically allowed to keep chickens was in the hands of a city employee rather than the decision depending upon my neighbors’ consent.

Most poultry detractors cite noise, smell, and a need to distinguish between urban and rural, city and country as reasons not to allow chickens in their neighbors’ back yards. These are all valid concerns, though the reality seems to be that the problems are generally much less than people would imagine. I searched for a single anti-urban chicken blog and found none-nary a “peep.” This seems reasonable. Chickens will hunt for mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. They also eat kitchen scraps and yard rubbish, all while producing less waste than cats and dogs - and they lay eggs! My opinion is that the simple solution is to regulate them similarly. I wholeheartedly believe a city should require an inexpensive permit to house more than six dogs or cats in a residential area.

While this may seem like a trivial issue, the larger issues of animal cruelty and human self-sufficiency and sustainable lifestyles are not. I don’t know many chicken owners, but those I do know all have gardens, beautiful green lawns from the extra "fertilizer," and more eggs than they can eat.

Don’t cry “Fowl!” Please do the right thing and encourage decriminalizing the urban chicken!"

Ethan's Proposed Code Revision for the City of Bemidji:
• 1-3 chickens must be kept 15 feet from neighboring structures. 4-6 chickens must be kept 25 feet away. A permit is required if you wish to keep more than 6 chickens. Roosters are not allowed in residentially zoned areas (neighbors could waive all requirements except the permit for 6+ chickens).
• Permits would be granted only to residents of single or two-family homes.
• Owners are subject to noise laws that can lead to a fine if neighbors are disturbed between 10:00pm and 7:00am.
• Chickens would have to be provided with a clean and covered structure with a fenced area and tied at all times when out of the structure.
• Chicken slaughter is prohibited in residentially zoned areas.
Ethan Montgomery is a KAXE member (and 28-year-old son of KAXE general manager Maggie Montgomery) who lives with his wife, Siau Yean, and 2 sons within the Bemidji city limits. He wrote this article as part of his class in Minnesota Politics at Bemidji State University.