Abalone, near endangered, once enjoyed by our parents…what will we pass on to our kids?

The next time someone asks you to drive less or recycle, try not to think about how much that annoys you. Instead think about the world that your children or grandchildren will live in. Will it be better or worse than the one you enjoy now?

Many signs are pointing to it being worse. One of those indications comes from an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune discussing the incoming extinction of Abalone on the West Coast.

..baby boomers who grew up peeling them off rocky outcroppings so that the practice became part of California beach culture.

“You used to be able to get an abalone sandwich for lunch when I first got here in the early 1970s,” Butler said.

I’ve never eaten an Abalone or even seen one. Am I already a part of that generation experiencing a worse world?

Abalones were a staple of coastal life for centuries — a nearshore fishery once topped 5.4 million pounds — until they were all but wiped out by disease, overharvest, predatory otters, poaching and habitat destruction.

By 1997, state officials had shut down all abalone fisheries south of San Francisco in hopes of saving the species.

In many ways the answer is yes, the environment passed down to me is worse than it was before.

The good news is that the solution defies generations. It requires the passion and motivation of young scientists combined with the wealth, political policies, and experience of older, often retired, specialists and philanthropic individuals.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently formed a task force to save the black abalone, which was listed as federally endangered in 2009. A recovery plan is expected in about two years, though scientists said it’s complicated by poaching in the United States, limited harvest enforcement in Mexico and the potential that climate change will speed the spread of disease in the population.

There is still an abundance of hope, but first we must overcome our balking at minor inconveniences.

Continue reading Abalone, near endangered, once enjoyed by our parents…what will we pass on to our kids?

A long way off: seafood at farmers markets that is fresh, local, and sustainable

“Ideally, farmers market customers would like a vendor to offer:

  • Wild fish that is freshly caught, rather than frozen.
  • Caught in local waters.
  • Sold directly by the fisherman, his family or his employees.
  • Available regularly and reliably in a diverse range of products.
  • A reasonable price.

“Realistically, however, it is virtually impossible for one vendor to fulfill all of these criteria, any more than one person can be both a top-flight ballerina and a football linebacker.”

“Many farmers markets do have fish vendors, but almost all of those are resellers who readily tell customers that they bought their fish wholesale. If a certified produce vendor at a farmers market were doing that, they’d be violating the direct-marketing regulations that govern farmers markets.”

“Looking back at the fish vendors who have sold at the prestigious Santa Monica farmers market since she started managing it in 1982, Laura Avery says she can think of only one, a shrimper who no longer operates, who she was sure sold only what he caught.”

From LA Times Market Watch

The same goes for me. I have visited markets all over this country and only found one who sells what they catch. That is Buster’s Seafood at the Dupont Market in Washington DC.

My Family Thanksgiving 2011 – Organic, Local, and Sustainable

The Lineup

Butternut Squash Soup
Turkey
Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Bread/Rolls
Vegetables (corn on the cob)
Cranberry
Stuffing
Pumpkin/Apple Pie
Whipped Cream

Sourcing

Butternut Squash Soup: Farmers Market. Gourd. Cut in half, remove seeds, bake till a knife slides out easily. Usually 40+ minutes at 350-400. Then, remove the skin, add water, and blend. Also, consider nutmeg and cinnamon for flavor. The perfect Thanksgiving appetizer.

Turkey: Whole Foods sells Free Range, Organic, and Heritage turkeys. All are way more expensive than the $5 dollar supermarket birds, but buying a smaller bird makes it okay. Not as many leftovers but a better conscience.

Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes aplenty at the farmers market.

Bread/Rolls: Every farmers market has a bread vendor, pick your favorite and go. Ours are the Straight Eight Rolls from the Bread Gallery

Vegetables (corn on the cob): This changes every year. For this one I’m thinking corn on the cob, barbeque-d, reminds me the most of the original Thanksgiving meal.

Gravy, Cranberry, Stuffing: Unfortunately, I haven’t found a local or organic source for these items. I think it’s because they are complicated to make and they never sell cranberries at the farmers market. Have to save that for next year.

Pumpkin/Apple Pie: Yumm. Every market has these.

Whipped Cream: Milk by the glass. Every Whole Foods in the nation sells this now and so do most natural food stores. I like Straus Family Creamery from Mother’s Market.

Seafood

Knowing my Mid-Atlantic roots, I hope to one-day introduce some seafood into our Thanksgiving meal. The closer to the pilgrims and natives the better!

From Wikipedia:

“According to what traditionally is known as “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained turkey, waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash.”

P.S. – My 2010 post on Thanksgiving

Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy

In 1985 a small group of concerned citizens set off on a mission to protect the last remaining wetlands in Huntington Beach, some 147 acres out of what used to be over 3,000.

Today, their dream is coming true as the Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy owns and has restored a majority of the land, some 100 acres from the Santa Ana River to the AES Power Plant.

The remaining pieces are a 44-acre parcel located between Newland and Beach Blvd, and a tiny triangle, some 7/10 an acre, sandwiched between the Huntington Waterfront Hilton and a new residential neighborhood. These, too, will soon be owned by the Conservancy.

Here is how that Newland Marsh looks now:

Dry, full of trash and non-native invasive plants

And, the restored marshes:

That's a Grey Heron in the center drinking some water (click pic to view large size).

The difference is clearly the water.

Why Wetlands?

A wetland is “the link between land and water and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Some common names for different types of wetlands are swamp, marsh and bog.

Continue reading Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy

Perfect Fish Tacos and Breakfast Burritos

I’ve never done a recipe post before, but I have to talk about my breakfast burritos and fish tacos. In the small world of “me” they are legendary.

I’ve started surfing and my apetite is ravenous. Being from Southern California I have to – absolutely required to eat fish tacos.

Fish Tacos

The best place to enjoy a fish taco in Orange County is the secret spot, Bear Flag Fish Company. The place is always packed with surfing families, potheads, and high school dates. No need to recommend anything because you should try them all.

They also sell fish by the pound (sometimes local fish too). This is where I start my fish tacos by ordering up a pound and grill it at home.

Fish is the easiest thing in the world to BBQ. Just throw it on the grill, cut down the middle to check it out, and when dry but oily take it off.

Next comes cabbage, the secret fish taco ingredient. Not much taste to cabbage (red or green) but it is a crunchy-wet-filler for the fish.

Tortillas, say it like this: torrrr-tiya with as slick an accent as you can produce.

I use small corn tortillas that smell delicious, which as far as I can tell is the only way to determine quality. Heat them up a little first (10 seconds in microwave).

Lay the fish down first and the cabbage on top of it.

If you prefer the creamy route then lay down some sour cream with hot sauce on top. This is key, you must lay the hot sauce on the cream, it’s magical that way.

Vegetables, like pico-de-gallo (diced tomatoes, peppers, onions) or avocado round out the fillings.

Just remember that less is best, don’t make a potpourri.

 

Breakfast Burrito

The tacos are for dinner but in the morning it’s all about the breakfast burrito.

The challenge to making a good breakfast burrito are the potatoes. These crunchy delights serve up the best burritos but take forever to prepare. Your best bet is to pre-cook them on a weekend or something and make a huge batch.

Boil them, then pan-sear ’em (turn pan on high, burn/crisp as much as possible, maybe use oil).

With taters in hand move on to the typical ingredients: large flour tortillas (heated in microwave, 10 seconds), eggs, sour cream, pico, avocado, sausage, etc.

The key is to combine the taters and warm tortillas with the best ingredients on hand. If needing protein go for a meat (sausage or soy-rizo, which is spicy tofu) or eggs (scrambled vs easy). If not, go the vegetarian route.

I only buy food at the farmers market so the ingredients always change. Right now the best item I’ve found are bean sprouts, I don’t know what kind but they are tasty and healthy.

Enjoy making your Mexican-American feast and share any tips you have!