Tuesday, March 30, 2010

winter tomatoes

In the earliest days of spring, we only dream of summer tomatoes. This coming Saturday we will learn more about local heirloom tomatoes.

This evening I sat down with my son for a dinner of stale bread and canned tomatoes. This sounds rather stark and reminiscent of depression era frugality, but was prompted by a half loaf of stale sourdough bread. There are many recipes in Italy that make use of day old - or week old - bread. The recipe consulted uses fresh tomatoes - unavailable this time of year even here in California, the vegetable basket of the country. A substitution of a 1lb 12oz can of San Marzano tomatoes worked perfectly. I got the idea here at Sweet Amandine, in a post/recipe about the simplest tomato soup. The cookbook I consulted was one of my favorites, Italy: the Beautiful Cookbook.

As we waited for the soup to simmer, we talked of poetry. My son seemed more and more enthused by the aroma of the soup - and when we finally got to eat it, he went for thirds, apologizing for no leftovers. He also took the book of poetry back to his lair to study at his leisure.

Tomato and stale bread soup

3 cloves garlic, diced fine
2 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely minced
3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced
1/2 c. olive oil
8 oz. stale bread, sliced
5-6 c. homemade chicken stock
1 lb. 12 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 glass red wine
salt and pepper to taste
grated Romano Cheese and minced basil for garnish

Heat olive oil over medium heat, add garlic and herbs and saute till fragrant. Add bread and stir to heat and absorb olive oil. Remove from heat and place bread slices on broiler tray; broil till lightly browned, put back in soup pot. Heat stock in separate pot to add to soup. Place tomatoes in large bowl; use immersion blender to lightly blend, leave plenty of chunks. Add bread and tomatoes to soup pot, raise heat to medium. Add 4 c. heated stock, more if thinner soup is desired. Add 1/2 glass wine, taste for seasoning. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Blend in basil, garnish each bowl with cheese.

My son thinks this would be outstanding with a huge meatball in the middle!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Google fiber and Napa

This post has a simple title - referencing the Google fiber for communities initiative announced by Google in February and the City of Napa application to be considered as a location for installing this super high speed fiber optic network. A friend in one of the giant tech industry companies alerted us to this right after the announcement; and another local tech wiz sent a message a couple of hours later.

As a city council member, I was intrigued by this prospect and immediately looked up the announcement and reviewed the application requirements.

I set up a facebook page named "Napa Needs its Fiber!" and John created a small website for residents to log support at

Fast forward to this past Friday.

A furious editing session for an op-ed piece for the local newspaper on Google docs and Google wave - complete with six people writing and editing at the same time. It was intense and suggested a future where high speed connections could facilitate a full multi-media collaboration.

The Napa City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Google fiber application. Other local governments and agencies have also supported the application. Here's a draft - probably slightly different from what will be published:

Dear Editor,

Google is looking for places to install a fiber-optic network capable of 1 Gigabit per second speed for internet access. The 1 Gigabit speed is twenty times faster than the fastest premium cable modem service offered; and several hundred times faster than the average cable and DSL subscription. Google hopes that in the city where this network is installed it "will make Internet access better and faster for everyone" and will serve as a model world wide. The City of Napa is now working on an application to the Google Fiber for Communities project, and it must be completed by March 26th. If Napa is selected, all eyes will be on our city.

Why would this super high speed internet access be valuable and important for Napa? And why should Google consider Napa?

Consider the benefits to business, education, and the environment.

Having better speed may open up more opportunity for business attraction of clean industries in our corporate park and in our downtown business district. Retail, tech industries, manufacturing industries - it’s a tool to use for efficient business. Every school from kindergarten to the Napa Valley College will enjoy better access and new opportunities to engage and educate students by using 21st Century tools. It's an opportunity to improve our workforce, to bring jobs to Napa, to have Google employ local contractors as they build their network, and for residents to benefit both for leisure and business use. All opportunities equal a sustainable future.

Over the last 18 years in partnership with the Napa business community, Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation our community has developed and sustained the nationally acclaimed Napa New Technology High School. We believe that the City of Napa is a critical partner in our efforts to continue to innovate and provide every student the opportunity to learn the essential skills they’ll need to be successful and productive in our society. Many of our families do not have access to high speed internet at home so the City of Napa winning the Google fiber grant would provide valuable educational resources to all of our students.

The Napa community has proven its commitment to large scale infrastructure improvements in the innovative $400 million dollar Napa River Flood Protection project. In the same way this community has played a role in revolutionizing flood control and the way the Corps of Engineers does business, we have the opportunity to break new ground in providing business, education and the general public unprecedented efficiency in accessing the information that is critical to success in today's world.

Because just saying we want it is not enough, we're asking you to register your support at our web site - napafiber dot net. With the registrations, we can say to Google: here are the subscribers to the Internet in Napa, you don't need a marketing study, this is the raw data you need.

Agencies can show their support by providing resolutions and letters demonstrating Napa's solid support for high speed fiber. Google needs an enthusiastic and unified community before it invests millions of dollars in the selected city's infrastructure.

We urge all residents and businesses in and near the City of Napa to show Google what working together can accomplish. Take these steps now and help make a difference in Napa.

Ad Hoc Committee to Bring Google Fiber to Napa

Mike Parness

Juliana Inman

Brad Wegenknecht

Lisa Batto

Mark Morrison

John L. Poole

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