Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In which I make a salad and replenish the ozone layer

Step 1. Puree a shoal of tiny fish and a head of elephant garlic in 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice.

The blades of my food processor whirled, caught a piece of anchovy, and whirled on, fanning the fish and garlic beneath them.

I used the pulse feature. The blades caught two pieces of anchovy and a fragment of garlic.

I picked up the running machine and tilted it to throw fish and garlic into its blades. I smelled ozone and felt the warming motor inside its plastic case.

I scraped the walls of the bowl, pulsed, and tilted some more.

I switched to the other blade.

How about labeling these things? I suggest, “Pacifist blade, to avoid harming fish or garlic,” and “Paleo blade, to go mano a mano with the flesh you’ll devour.”

The anchovies were turning to soup, but the garlic stayed stubbornly solid. I mashed fragrant fragments on the floor of the bowl with my porcelain pestle.

I smelled ozone. The sun didn't seem quite as bright as it had been.

Step 2. With food processor running, add a liter of olive oil, drop by drop, to fish and garlic mixture.

Let's see; there are 20 drops in a milliliter and 1,000 ml in a liter. If I drop one drop per second, that's 60 drops per minute, there are 4 pecks in a bushel, Peter Piper divided by the number of elephants in a garlic field and there once was a girl from Nantucket who multiplied by the number of anchovies in a shoal.

By the time I'd run my food processor that long, I wouldn't need sunscreen.

I poured in the oil and moved on.

Step 3. Massage the kale with salt, as you would rub someone’s shoulders, until limp.

The kale bled chlorophyll tears before the tension had left my shoulders.

I assembled my salad and applied sunscreen.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reestablishing Fire Cycles in the Great Plains

Before Europeans arrived, fires routinely swept the Great Plains, rejuvenating grasses and suppressing trees spreading from the riparian areas that cross the region. Whether lightening caused or set by Native Americans, fire maintained the grasslands and provided lush grazing for bison. Europeans plowed the grasslands for crops and put out wildfires, disrupting natural fire regimes.

Today, land managers in the Great Plains are setting planned burns to reintroduce fire and reestablish fire cycles. I wrote a fact sheet about using planned burns for the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange (GPFSE).

The GPFSE increases understanding and improves management of fire in the Great Plains. This region stretches from Montana and North Dakota to central Texas. The Exchange is funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP). The JFSP funds research on wildland fires needed by policy makers and land managers.