July 23, 2014

Recipe Corner: The best of blueberries


By Ginger Isham


The best of blueberries
Blueberry season is under way. The berries are big and delicious this year because of all the rain and help from a grandson who has been keeping the weeds under control.

Delicious Blueberry Buckle
3/4 cup sugar (I use little less, like 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup butter (canola or olive oil works well)
1 egg
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
2 cups blueberries
Cream sugar, butter and egg. Mix dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture alternately with milk. Blend thoroughly. Fold in blueberries. Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 baking dish.
crumb topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup soft butter
Mix all until crumbly and sprinkle over batter. Bake 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Glazed Blueberry Pie
1 nine-inch baked pie crust
1 three-ounce package cream cheese
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Spread softened cream cheese in bottom of baked pie shell. Fill with 3 cups of fresh blueberries. Add water to remaining 1 cup of blueberries and bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain, saving liquid. Combine sugar and cornstarch and add to liquid. Cook until thickens. Add cooked blueberries, cool slightly and add lemon juice. Pour over berries in pie shell. Chill and serve with whipped cream.

Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.

Little Details: Waiting for truth


By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

To the person who vandalized my car:
I’m not sure what compelled you to zero in on my car. Was it its shiny silver color? Was it the eco-friendly hybrid designation? Was my purple Buddha bumper sticker a little too “crunchy” for your taste?
Maybe our often-used Thule bike rack taunted you from its perch on the trunk. Perhaps opportunity knocked in the form of a desolate parking lot. I’ll likely never know what compelled you to attack.
What you should know: I entered my car—unaware of its ravaged rear end—and drove 31.4 miles home. Only then did I see the damage you inflicted on my spiffy sedan.
In your quest to remove my bike-less rack, you mangled the trunk, stretching hinges and breaking the seal designed to protect innards from rain. Scratches and chipped paint added insult to injury.
The bike rack dangled by one cable. Three other stabilizers became unhinged en route due to the damage. I cringe when I think of how someone might have been injured if that rack fell off and landed in the road in front of an unsuspecting driver.
You exercised your brawn against a helpless little car whose mission in the automotive life is transporting my family safely to work, school and play.
After a long day at the office, all I really wanted to do was sit down, relax and share a quiet dinner with my husband. Instead, I sat at the kitchen table to call my insurer and file a claim. I asked if I should file a police report.
What a hassle. What unnecessary expense. What a pain.
My insurance company took the call and graciously recorded my claim. I’d be out a hundred bucks in a deductible. A claims adjuster examined the car within 36 hours, approved the repair and authorized coverage for a new Thule. Our family will be down a car for a week in August as the auto body shop replaces the entire trunk lid.
So, who are you, anyway? Are you an angry and frustrated teen or young adult? Were you trying to impress friends by displaying violent vigor—at my expense? Were you high or seeking to “steal and sell” to fund your next fix? Did someone hurt you, prompting you to intentionally damage someone else’s property?
Do you know the word for what you did? It’s called vandalism. The dictionary defines vandalism as the deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property.
Etymologists point out the historical origins of the word vandalism, prompting a short trip through Roman history. The Vandals were an ancient Germanic people who sacked Rome in the 5th century. They were held in particular scorn because they deliberately destroyed and defaced cultural items like statues and monuments. Somehow, the name stuck.
Did you know that some folks even study and track the actions and motives of present-day vandals? A 2010 survey conducted by the British insurer Direct Line revealed that four out of ten drivers experienced vandalism on their vehicles. The most common offenses were: keying (intentionally scratching a car with a key), 52 percent; broken side mirrors, 34 percent; smashed windows, 22 percent; snapped antennas, 20 percent; and snapped windshield wipers, 12 percent. I find some solace in knowing that ransacked bike racks and ravaged trunks fall somewhat lower in rankings of vehicular violence.
Do you know the estimated cost of the damage you caused? Two thousand two hundred dollars. That’s two cheap tickets to Europe, ten weeks of groceries at my house, and, possibly, someone’s mortgage payment. This cost is borne by me and anyone else who insures his or her vehicle.
Experiencing vandalism feels like an affront, a violation. Vandalism erodes quality of life as a community feels a little less trusting, a little less respected and a little less safe.
What wisdom does my Buddha bumper sticker offer? “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
I’m waiting.
Katherine Bielawa Stamper, a Williston resident, was a 2013 finalist for the Coolidge Prize for Journalism. Reader comments are welcome at [email protected] or [email protected]

Letters to the Editor


CWD supports IBM ‘Vermont plan’
The purpose of this letter is to document Champlain Water District’s (CWD) elected Board of Water Commissioners support of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation’s action in developing “IBM Vermont: The Vermont Plan.” IBM is a significant water customer for CWD, averaging 3.24 million gallons per day for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. At this time, IBM’s daily usage is 34.35 percent of CWD’s total daily facility production. As a high volume user for CWD, IBM has been the key factor in maintaining CWD’s uniform wholesale water rate as one of the lowest in New England. Continued high volume industrial water usage will help ensure that CWD’s uniform wholesale water rate remains near current levels for CWD’s 70,000 Chittenden County customers. As a wholesaler to 12 municipal water systems in Chittenden County, CWD’s uniform wholesale rate costs the average family $136 per year. Given that each community also has its own individual retail mark up from the CWD uniform rate, CWD’s uniform rate represents an average of 47 percent of the annual dollar amount charged to county customers across all 12 served water systems.
Since the vast majority of IBM’s water usage relates directly to its wet process manufacturing, it is critical that this IBM site continues utilization of wet processes in order to maintain the extremely economical water rates to CWD customers going forward into the future. IBM’s benefit to the Champlain Water District is only a small impact for the state of Vermont overall, therefore CWD certainly supports GBIC’s “IBM Vermont: The Vermont Plan” for IBM to continue to be the economic engine for our entire state.
— Jim Fay
General manager,
Champlain Water District

Unfair practice
I am disappointed in our area’s largest newspaper. They raised their rates and if you write them a letter and complain they will offer you the chance to keep your paper at the present rate.
I am also disappointed in rumors that our newspapers will soon be obsolete. One will have to read them online and pay here also.
Since predictions say that the majority of our future population will be an older generation, I object to having to read the news online and I think there are many folks out there who feel the same as I do. I suggest a survey to find out how many older folks have a computer and want to read their news on-line.
Are we also putting people out of work?
Years ago I went to school, studied hard, worked hard and raised my family and I do not want to continue to study. I am thankful I have a choice.
— Ginger Isham

Cartoon an affront
Sometimes your political cartoons are an affront to conservative values and beliefs. The cartoon in the July 10 issue of the Observer definitely was “a poke in the eye” toward the Hobby Lobby company.
This company is owned by Christians who believe in the sanctity of human life. They are also opposed to being forced by Obamacare to cover the cost of drugs that cause abortions. (Every abortion takes the life of an innocent, unborn child, no matter when it happens.)
Hobby Lobby’s right to religious freedom was upheld by the Supreme Court. We can be thankful for that.
— Christine Parker

Keeping Vermont sustainable


By George Plumb
World Population Day was last week.
Many, if not most Vermonters, think that population size and growth is primarily a world problem, maybe a U.S. problem, but certainly, being a rural state, not a Vermont concern. In fact, economists and developers keep on saying that Vermont’s population has to grow more in order to keep the economy healthy and meet the financial needs of our population.
However, when looking at the issue scientifically, population size and growth also need to be a Vermont concern if we care about the Earth, what Vermont will be like if we keep on growing and most importantly what life will be like for future generations given the huge impacts that scientists tell us that climate change and species extinction are going to have on our habitat and ecosystems.
The real issue is what is sustainable? Before determining that, we have to define what is meant by “sustainability.” The Vermont Chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, out of compassion for all living species, and not just Homo sapiens, recently adopted the following definition:
“Populations in a given politically or geographically defined area become truly
-when living within the limits of that area’s renewable resources, both in inputs (energy and materials) and outputs (food, goods, etc., and the area’s capacity to absorb damage and regenerate).
-when such populations purchase or trade only with environmentally responsible sources, for those necessities unavailable locally.
-when population density and manner of living support the health and well-being of all species and habitats, for the present generation, and all those to come.”
The Vermont chapter of the Sierra Club has adopted a similar definition, as have other organizations and businesses. Note that there are three very different aspects to this definition. It says that we have to put it in the context of a geographical area, we have to depend entirely on renewables, and all life is important and not just the human species. Hopefully, all organizations, institutions and businesses that use the term “sustainable” or “sustainability” in their mission or public relations will also adopt a similar definition so that there is common public acceptance of what exactly that term means and it is not just green-washing.
The worldwide precedent setting “What is an Optimal/Sustainable Population for Vermont?” report (www.vspop.org) uses 16 different measureable indicators to make the projection of what is an optimal/sustainable population size. Some, like ecological footprint or how many people Vermont can feed, are very objective and scientific. Others, like scenic beauty and quality of life, are more subjective and personal. The 16 indicators average out at about 500,000 people compared to Vermont’s current population size of approximately 626,000.
Let’s keep in mind that Vermont is part of the world also, and what we do here in terms of consumption and the numbers of consumers has impacts on both Vermont and the world.
George Plumb is the executive director of Vermonters for Sustainable Population.