Beetnik Martini

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium red beets (about 2½ lb.), scrubbed, trimmed
  • 1 750-ml bottle vodka
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
  • 3 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 12 slices lemon slices

Directions:

Cook beets in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender, 1–1¼ hours. Drain; let cool slightly. Peel and slice. Combine warm beets and vodka in a large 1½-qt. jar (save vodka bottle to store finished product). Cover; chill for at least 5 days and up to 1 week. Strain into a medium bowl; discard beets. Pour beet vodka back into reserved bottle. Cover and chill.

Bring sugar, ginger, and ¾ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Let cool. Strain ginger syrup into a medium jar; discard ginger. Cover and chill. Beet vodka and ginger syrup can be made 1 month ahead. Keep chilled separately.

For each cocktail, combine 2 oz. beet vodka, ½ oz. ginger syrup, ¼ oz. lemon juice, and ¼ oz. lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until cocktail shaker is very cold. Strain drink into a coupe or Martini glass. Float a lemon slice on top. This recipes offers 12 servings.

Beet Sugar

The beets are harvested in the autumn and early winter by digging them out of the ground. They are usually transported to the factory by large trucks because the transport distances involved are greater than in the cane industry. This is a direct result of sugar beet being a rotational crop which requires nearly 4 times the land area of the equivalent cane crop which is grown in mono-culture. Because the beets have come from the ground they are much dirtier than sugar cane and have to be thoroughly washed and separated from any remaining beet leaves, stones and other trash material before processing.

The sugar processing starts by slicing the beets into thin chips. This process increases the surface area of the beet to make it easier to extract the sugar. The extraction takes place in a diffuser where the beet is kept in contact with hot water for about an hour. Diffusion is the process by which the color and flavor of tea comes out of the tea leaves in a teapot but a typical diffuser weighs several hundred tons when full of beet and extraction water. The diffuser is a large horizontal or vertical agitated tank in which the beets slices slowly work their way from one end to the other and the water is moved in the opposite direction. This is called counter-current flow and as the water goes it becomes a stronger and stronger sugar solution usually called juice. Of course it also collects a lot of other chemicals from the flesh of the sugar beet.

The exhausted beet slices from the diffuser are still very wet and the water in them still holds some useful sugar. They are therefore pressed in screw presses to squeeze as much juice as possible out of them. This juice is used as part of the water in the diffuser and the pressed beet, by now a pulp, is sent to drying plant where it is turned into pellets which form an important constituent of some animal feeds.      Sorry, no Picture Yet

The juice must now be cleaned up before it can be used for sugar production. This is done by a process known as carbonatation where small clumps of chalk are grown in the juice. The clumps, as they form, collect a lot of the non-sugars so that by filtering out the chalk one also takes out the non-sugars. Once this is done the sugar liquor is ready for sugar production except that it is very dilute.

The next stage of the process is therefore to evaporate the juice in a multi-stage evaporator. This technique is used because it is an efficient way of using steam and it also creates another, lower grade steam which can be used to drive the crystallisation process.

The final stage, the syrup is placed into a very large pan, typically holding 60 tons or more of sugar syrup. In the pan even more water is boiled off until conditions are right for sugar crystals to grow. You may have done something like this at school but probably not with sugar because it is difficult to get the crystals to grow well. In the factory the workers usually have to add some sugar dust to initiate crystal formation. Once the crystals have grown the resulting mixture of crystals and mother liquor is spun in centrifuges to separate the two, rather like washing is spin dried. The crystals are then given a final dry with hot air before being packed and/or stored ready for delivery.

Pythium

Pythium blight, grease spot, spot blight, root rot, cottony blight, and snow blight are the “attractive” names given to this lawn disease. Each name describes a different phase of the disease life-cycle and none of them are a pretty sight.

The first signs of Pythium lawn disease are usually small patches of turf that look water-soaked and dark or purplish in color. When the blades of grass in these areas are handled, they have a greasy or slimy feel. That’s where the name grease spot comes from. These infected grass blades become light tan and shriveled, thus the name spot blight. When a lot of these infected areas appear, they begin to grow together and overlap. Pythium lawn disease infections usually concentrate in low, wet areas or along the natural course of drainage across the turf. When humidity remains high, the shriveled and collapsed leaves become matted and covered with a fluffy mass of white fungal threads or mycelium. This is sometimes called cottony blight. The most serious and severe damage occurs during hot, humid weather, when the disease can spread so quickly that an entire stand of turf can be destroyed in just one day.

Pythium survives, as spores (fungus seeds) and as mycelium (fungus strands), in and on diseased turf tissue, as well as in organic material like thatch. Wet turf grass is always required, before Pythium can cause lawn disease. Periods of wet grass and thatch, along with high relative humidity, present especially favorable conditions for the disease to grow. This lawn disease is most dramatic when it suddenly appears during very hot and humid weather, when the nights remain very warm and muggy.

Since Pythium is almost always associated with wet turf, identifying any poorly draining areas where water tends to pool or stand can help prevent this type of lawn disease. Correct the drainage to promote rapid drying of grass plants.

Controlling thatch is strongly suggested, by vertical mowing or regular lawn aeration. It’s also important to avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Using a properly balanced fertilizer for your grass care helps avoid nutrient imbalances that can stimulate grass diseases. It can also help to increase air movement by selectively pruning lower tree branches to eliminate pockets of still humid air. And finally, don’t mow when the grass is wet, as this tends to spread the disease. Fungicides can also be effective in suppressing Pythium, but prevention is a much better and more economical turf care solution.

Refrigeration & Produce

Cooling dramatically slows respiration and break-down processes in produce. Most of your produce would love to be refrigerated.

Make sure to lay thick sheets of plastic over all of the cooler-kept vegetables like salad greens and roots to keep them from drying out from the cool winds. Your refrigerator has cool winds too. Good for getting things cool, but protect your veggies from the wilting and drying effects.

Pack your lettuce, greens, pretty much all refrigerated produce in bags when putting away to preserve moisture. When packing away your vegetables remember these tips:

Never store produce directly in the refrigerator. Keep items like greens, cucumbers, beets, broccoli, all roots and peppers, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag.

Cut the edible greens from crops like beets, radishes, carrots, and kohlrabi, before storing. The greens will drain moisture from the roots if left attached.

Remove rubber bands, twisty ties, and other fasteners from vegetables for better circulation.

Keep fruits and vegetables separate. Apples, apricots, avocados, ripening bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruit (not grapefruit), cranberries, figs, guavas, grapes, green onions, honeydew, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, okra, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmons, pineapple, plantains, plums, prunes, quinces, tomatoes and watermelon all release ethylene gas which will cause your remaining produce to spoil and change in flavor in proximity, especially sensitive greens.

Try not to wash or chop vegetables before storing. The extra water will create conditions that are too damp and not ideal for crisp, tasty vegetables. If washing before storing, make sure to dry produce as well as possible and store in the company of a dry paper towel.

Cut the roots from the greens when you put away bunched crops to preserve the moisture in the roots.

Wash your lettuce leaves for salad and spin them nice and dry when you receive them, it will make it easy and quick later. Same for other things you want to use soon washed.

If your greens or other items had a rough ride home in a warm car, say, or a 90 degree day at the market or garden, you can perk them up with a soak in a bowl of cold water before drying and putting them away.

Control Blossom End Rot

Control of blossom end rot is dependent upon maintaining adequate supplies of moisture and calcium to the developing fruits. Tomatoes should not be excessively hardened nor too succulent when set in the field. They should be planted in well drained, adequately aerated soils. Tomatoes planted early in cold soil are likely to develop blossom end rot on the first fruits, with the severity of the disease often subsiding on fruits set later.

Planting tomatoes in warmer soils helps to alleviate the problem. Irrigation must be sufficient to maintain a steady even growth rate of the plants. Mulching of the soil is often helpful in maintaining adequate supplies of soil water in times of moisture stress.

When cultivation is necessary, it should not be too near the plants nor too deep, so that valuable feeder roots remain uninjured and viable. In home gardens, shading the plants is often helpful when hot, dry winds are blowing, and soil moisture is low.

Use of fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in superphosphate will do much to alleviate the problem of blossom end rot. In emergency situations, foliage can be sprayed with calcium chloride solutions. However, extreme caution must be exercised since calcium chloride can be phytotoxic if applied too frequently or in excessive amounts. Foliar treatment is not a substitute for proper treatment of the soil to maintain adequate supplies of water and calcium.

Although differences exist among varieties with respect to susceptibility to blossom end rot, no varieties as yet have commercially useful resistance.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is a troublesome disease, familiar to most gardeners who have grown tomatoes. The disease is often prevalent in commercial as well as home garden tomatoes, and severe losses may occur if preventive control measures are not undertaken.

Symptoms may occur at any stage in the development of the fruit, but, most commonly are first seen when the fruit is one-third to one-half full size. As the name of the disease implies, symptoms appear only at the blossom end of the fruit. Initially a small, water-soaked spot appear which enlarges and darkens rapidly as the fruits develop. The spot may enlarge until it covers as much as one third to one-half of the entire fruit surface, or the spot may remain small and superficial. Large lesions soon dry out and become flattened, black, and leathery in appearance and texture.

This disease does not spread from plant to plant in the field, or from fruit to fruit in transit. Since it is of a physiological nature, fungicides and insecticides are useless as control measures. The occurrence of the disease is dependent upon a number of environmental conditions, especially those that affect the supply of water and calcium in the developing fruits.

Factors that influence the uptake of water and calcium by the plant have an effect on the incidence and severity of blossom end rot. The disease is especially prevalent when rapidly growing, succulent plants are exposed suddenly to a period of drought. When the roots fail to obtain sufficient water and calcium to be transported up to the rapidly developing fruits, the latter become rotted on their basal ends.

Another common predisposing factor is cultivation too close to the plant; this practice destroys valuable roots, which take up water and minerals. Tomatoes planted in cold, heavy soils often have poorly developed root systems. Since they are unable to supply adequate amounts of water and nutrients to plants during times of stress, blossom end rot may result.

Soils that contain excessive amounts of soluble salts may predispose tomatoes to the disease, for the availability of calcium to the plants decreases rapidly as total salts in the soil increase.

Umbrella

In 1928, Hans Haupt’s pocket umbrellas appeared. In Vienna in 1928, Slawa Horowitz, a student studying sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Wien (Academy of Fine Arts), developed a prototype for an improved compact foldable umbrella for which she received a patent on September 19, 1929. The umbrella was called “Flirt” and manufactured by the Austrian company “Brüder Wüster” and their German associates “Kortenbach & Rauh”. In Germany, the small foldable umbrellas were produced by the company “Knirps”, which became a synonym in the German language for small foldable umbrellas in general. In 1969, Bradford E Phillips, the owner of Totes Incorporated of Loveland, Ohio, obtained a patent for his “working folding umbrella”.

Umbrellas have also been fashioned into hats as early as 1880 and at least as recently as 1987.

Golf umbrellas, one of the largest sizes in common use, are typically around 62 inches (157 cm) across, but can range anywhere from 60 to 70 inches (150 to 180 cm).

Umbrellas are now a consumer product with a large global market. As of 2008, most umbrellas worldwide are made in China, mostly in the Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. The city of Shangyu alone had more than a thousand umbrella factories. In the US alone, about 33 million umbrellas, worth $348 million, are sold each year.

Umbrellas continue to be actively developed. In the US, so many umbrella-related patents are being filed that the U.S. Patent Office employs four full-time examiners to assess them. As of 2008, the office registered 3000 active patents on umbrella-related inventions. Nonetheless, Totes, the largest American umbrella producer, has stopped accepting unsolicited proposals. Its director of umbrella development was reported as saying that while umbrellas are so ordinary that everyone thinks about them, “it’s difficult to come up with an umbrella idea that hasn’t already been done.”

Testing a Senz storm umbrella in Rotterdam, using a high-powered fan

While the predominate canopy shape of an umbrella is round, canopy shapes have been streamlined to improve aerodynamic response to wind. Examples include the stealth-shaped canopy of Rizotti  (1996), scoop-shaped canopy of Lisciandro  (2004), and teardrop-shaped canopies of Hollinger  (2004).

In 2005 Gerwin Hoogendoorn,  a Dutch industrial design student of the Delft University of Technology  in the Netherlands, invented an aerodynamically streamlined storm umbrella (with a similar shape as a stealth plane)   which can withstand wind force 10 (winds of up to 70 mp/h) and won’t turn inside-out like a regular umbrella  as well as being equipped with so-called ‘eyesavers’ which protect others from being accidentally wounded by the tips.  Hoogendoorn’s storm umbrella was nominated for and won several design awards and was featured on Good Morning America.  The umbrella is sold in Europe as the Senz umbrella and is sold under license by Totes in the United States.

The “DAVEK” line of upscale umbrellas features a uniquely strong, patented frame system and unconditional lifetime guarantee. Alan Kaufman’s “Nubrella” and Greg Brebner’s “Blunt” are other contemporary designs.